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Maj. Hasan peer: 'I was not surprised'

November 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Every Sunday, a group called Veterans for Peace places hundreds of crosses at the Santa Monica Pier to represent all of the U.S. soldiers killed in the war on terror.On Saturday night, they added 13 more crosses to represent the men and women killed in Fort Hood, Texas, last Thursday.

People in the Southland are still wondering why Maj. Nadal Malik Hasan, a U.S. soldier, would allegedly murder his own comrades.

"The hard thing about war is that it breaks people, it messes with peoples' minds. Obviously this man was a very broken person to do such a thing," said Lynne Fuqua.

"It does touch me in a way because I am hurt because of all the loss that's overseas, and now it's here. It's almost like another civil war," said William Kirk.

Redondo Beach Dr. Val Finnell was a former classmate of Hasan from 2007 to 2008. Both men were getting a master's in public health at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, but Finnell says Hasan was always focused on another subject.

"He would frequently say that he was Muslim first and an American second. That came out in just about everything he did in the university," said Finnell. "We questioned how somebody could be an officer in the military and swear allegiance to the constitution to defend America against all enemies foreign and domestic and have that type of conflict."

Finnell said Hasan was always vocal about being against the war. At one point, he says Hasan went completely off subject during a class presentation.

"During his presentation in an environmental health class people raised their hands and said 'well what does this topic of the war on terror being a war on Islam have to do with environmental health?' and he was still allowed to continue that presentation," said Finnell.

Finnell said Hasan would become visibly upset when people challenged him about his beliefs, but no one ever thought he would resort to such violence.

"My reaction was first I was shocked. But then knowing the extreme beliefs that Maj. Hasan had, I was not surprised," said Finnell.

Maj. Hassan is still in critical condition and has not been interviewed by investigators.

Hasan was set to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. According to Hasan's family, he was terrified about the deployment.


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