Fort Hood shooting: Obama urges people not to jump to conclusions

Last Updated: Saturday, November 7, 2009 - 17:51

Washington: President Barack Obama said Friday the entire nation is grieving for those slain at Fort Hood, and he urged people not to jump to conclusions while law enforcement officers investigate the shootings.

Obama met Friday morning with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other federal leaders to get an update on what they`ve learned. Thirteen people were killed and 30 others injured in the shooting rampage at the Texas Army post on Thursday. The suspected shooter is an Army psychiatrist; his motive remains unclear.

"We don`t know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts," Obama said in a Rose Garden statement otherwise devoted to the economy.
"What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday," the President said.

His aides, meanwhile, worked to make way for Obama to attend a still unscheduled memorial service for those slain at the nation`s largest military post. The White House`s top spokesman said Obama would attend that service and emphasized it would take place at the family`s convenience, and that it will not be dictated by the president`s schedule.

"When a service is scheduled, the President will attend," Robert Gibbs told reporters during his daily briefing.

Obama ordered the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be at half-staff until Veterans Day. He called it a modest tribute to those who were slain and to those who put their lives on the line in the armed services each day.

"We stand in awe of their sacrifice, and we pray for the safety of those who fight, and for the families of those who have fallen," he said.

The President promised that that his administration would update the nation as it learns more about what happened, and why, at Fort Hood.

The suspected shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was shot and remains hospitalized.
US President Barack Obama has delayed his visit to Japan next week by one day, a Japanese foreign ministry official said Saturday, following a deadly shooting at a military base in Texas.

Obama delays Japan visit

Meanwhile, Japanese national broadcaster NHK and Jiji Press reported that Washington had asked Tokyo to change the schedule for the two-day visit to allow Obama to attend a memorial service for the 13 people killed in Thursday`s shooting.

Obama had been due to arrive for his first trip to Japan on Thursday for talks with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and to meet Emperor Akihito.

"The (US) government has requested a delay," a foreign ministry official told a news agency, adding that the Japanese government had agreed to the request.

Obama would now be arriving on Friday and stay until Saturday, the official said. A meeting scheduled for Friday with Hatoyama would go ahead as planned, Kyodo News reported, quoting an unnamed foreign ministry source.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs earlier told reporters in the United States that Obama would attend a memorial service for those killed when a Muslim army doctor went on the rampage at the Fort Hood base.

"When a service is scheduled the president will attend," he said, adding only that the timing of the memorial would be scheduled "for the convenience of the families."

The US President`s visit to Japan is likely to be dominated by a row over an American military base on the southern island of Okinawa.

Residents have long complained about the base and plans to relocate it to another part of the island, while Hatoyama`s government, which came to power in September, has promised to review the issue.

Hatoyama on Friday said he did not plan to make a decision on the base before Obama`s visit.

While the Japanese leader has promised to review a pact under which a new US base would be built on the island, Washington has insisted Tokyo stick to the agreement.

The issue has clouded ties ahead of Obama`s visit.

US Army gunman`s act "impossible": Grandfather

Washington: The grandfather of a US Army psychiatrist accused of shooting dead 13 people and wounding 30 others at a base in Texas said on Saturday he found it impossible to believe his grandson had committed the act.
"He is a doctor and loves the U.S." Ismail Mustafa Hamad told Reuters in an interview at his home in the Palestinian town of al-Bireh. "America made him what he is."

U.S.-born Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a Muslim and the son of immigrant parents, was shot during the attack and is being held at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

"Whether he became angry or something else, I don`t know... What I do know is that it is impossible that he would do something like that," Hamad, 88, said.

Hasan, who had spent years counselling wounded soldiers, many of whom had lost limbs fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, last visited him in the occupied West Bank some 10 years ago. Hamad said he had since visited his grandson in the United States.

Hamad appeared to rule out a political motive.

"He used to come to my house, to stay with me and entertain me. He never took an interest in politics and he didn`t even like watching television," Hamad said.

Colonel John Rossi, a spokesman at the Fort Hood army base, the biggest military facility in the world, said Hasan was unconscious but in stable condition.

The gunman, with two guns including a semi-automatic weapon, opened fire apparently without warning at Fort Hood base, where troops were getting medical checkups before leaving for foreign deployments.

Hasan was transferred to Fort Hood in April and was to have been deployed to Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is fighting Taliban and al Qaeda.

Hasan`s cousin, Nader Hasan, said in interviews that he had agitated not to be sent overseas. "We`ve known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare," he said.

Nader Hasan also said his cousin had complained, as a Muslim, of harassment by fellow soldiers.

Hasan yelled "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is Greatest" -- just before the shooting, Chuck Medley, Fort Hood`s director of Emergency Services, told.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, November 7, 2009 - 17:51

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