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Gunman shouted 'Allah Akbar' before opening fire, witness says. Will the rampage affect Obama's decision?

November 6, 2009 |  9:23 am

A witness has told investigators that the Army major who allegedly opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Ft.  Hood Army Base Thursday shouted  "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is Great" and the rallying cry of suicide bombers around the world -- before unleashing his bloody assault that left 13 dead and 30 others wounded.

In a briefing with reporters this morning at the base, Col. John Rossi said, "We do have a witness who reported that."

And this morning on NBC's "Today" show, Lester Holt aired tape of the father of a soldier who said that his daughter told him the same thing.

No one knows for sure yet. Lots of investigations are underway. This morning, after obtaining a search warrant, federal authorities seized the suspect's computer. Maybe it will turn out that anger is just anger, that motive is less important than fury.

But there are other reasons to suspect that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist who treated combat veterans and who was described as a devout Muslim, was motivated by political animus against the United States.

Reports say he had received unsatisfactory reviews while he was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, in part because he reportedly got into arguments with soldiers about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor," retired Col. Terry Lee told Fox News. "At first we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make comments [that] we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."

And then there are the Web postings, which authorities are now investigating. As the Los Angeles Times reported this morning, in a post on the website scribd.com that appears to be from May, a writer named "NidalHasan" likened a suicide bomber to a soldier who jumps on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow officers in that both were sacrificing their lives "for a more noble cause."

That cause, the post read, "is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan."

The massacre will no doubt weigh on President Obama as he decides whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. This afternoon he visits soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, a trip planned before the shooting.

-- Johanna Neuman

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