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Imam: Fort Hood suspect asked help finding wife

From Brian Todd, CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"
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Retracing Hasan's trail
  • Imam: Nidal Malik Hasan wanted wife who could deal with his military career
  • Yahya Hendi is third imam to tell CNN Hasan asked for help finding wife
  • Manager of strip club tells reporters Hasan visited there several times
  • Hendi says strip club visits violate Islam -- and so does "killing fellow citizens"

Washington (CNN) -- A Washington-based imam told CNN on Monday that alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan approached him for help finding a wife.

Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, said Hasan came to him at least two years ago as the cleric conducted services at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

"He said he wanted someone to help him serve, deploy and be understandable and understanding of his own military career," Hendi said. "He saw himself as someone ... continuing his service with the U.S. military till the end of his career."

The imam said he spoke with Hasan on at least two occasions about his search for a spouse.

"It's not easy to find, in general, someone who will be willing to travel with you and deploy with you every two years," Hendi said. "But he did want a wife who would stand by him, is [a] loyal American, who will help him do his work and his service for the U.S. military."

The imam's comments about Hasan's search for someone who would remain with him throughout his military career were at odds with some statements by Hasan's family. Relatives have said Hasan tried unsuccessfully to leave the military early -- requests that may have come after Hasan contacted Hendi.

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The cleric said he did try to help Hasan in his search, thinking of women he knew to whom he could introduce the Army psychiatrist, but he never heard from Hasan again.

Authorities say Hasan opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood Army Post on November 5, killing 13 people. Hasan, who was seriously wounded in the incident, was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder -- charges that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Two other imams have told CNN similar stories about Hasan's search for a wife, and about his conservatism and apparent devotion to Islam -- but those accounts seem to be inconsistent with behavior Hasan exhibited in the last few months.

The manager of a strip club near Fort Hood has told reporters that Hasan visited the club a handful of times, staying for several hours each time.

"You know, for me, everything that he did is against the teachings of Islam. Killing fellow soldiers, fellow citizen men and women, the shooting, the bloodshed, speaks of someone who did not understand his faith very well. Islam is against going to strip clubs, but it's also against killing fellow citizens," Hendi told CNN.

When taken as a whole, Hasan's actions in the weeks before the attack at Fort Hood -- the giving away of his possessions, his sometimes conservative dress in white Muslim clothing, and his previous defense of suicide bombings during presentations to classmates -- seem to be those of someone who was preparing for his own death, said CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.

"I think what he was doing was sort of a jihadist 'death-by-cop,'" said Bergen, who based his observations on news reports about Hasan. "Here's a guy who obviously had personal problems. He's a loner, he avoids women basically, has few friends, and then grafted onto that, he finds sort of a jihadist ideology as a way of making sense of everything, and he decides to martyr himself."

Bergen and other experts say Hasan could be someone who engaged in what they call "self-radicalization": the idea that militant religion might provide an answer to psychological problems that someone already has.

Hasan remained hospitalized in Texas, paralyzed from the waist down, his lawyer said. He was shot by a civilian police officer, who was also wounded in the attack.

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