He was a psychiatrist who had trained for his medical degree in the military, and before he went to Ft. Hood, he had worked at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda Naval Facility and had been a Fellow, Disaster and Preventive Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He had also worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for six years before being transferred to the Texas base in July.
On various websites I've read a variety of disgusting reactions, based upon the political leanings of the commenter - some are anti-Muslim (on the basis of his name), others are simply anti-military with the assumption that all soldiers are bloodthirsty murderers or potential murderers.
Since we don't know anything about his motive for the shootings, I think it's useless at this point to speculate on them.
Update - from press conference right now with General Robert Cone (9:20 p.m.) - apparently the shooter is not dead. He was shot, but did not die, and is in stable condition.
Further Update (Washington Post):
Nidal M. Hasan, the Army major suspected of shooting dozens at Fort Hood in Texas on Wednesday, was a devout Muslim and Virginia native born to two Jordanian immigrants. His family moved to Roanoke, where he attended high school, afterward enlisting in the Army.
The 39-year-old received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 1997, followed by advanced degrees in psychiatry and public health from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda.Some more interesting details from the New York Times:
Starting in June 2003, Hasan was an intern at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, later becoming a resident and then a fellow at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
During his time in the D.C. area, Hasan attended the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring and was "very devout," according to Faizul Khan, a former imam at the center. Khan said Hasan attended prayers at least once a day, seven days a week, often in his Army fatigues.
Khan also said Hasan applied to an annual matrimonial seminar that matches Muslims looking for spouses. "I don't think he ever had a match, because he had too many conditions," Khan said. On his application, Hasan described his personality and character: "I am quiet and reserved until more familiar with person. Funny, caring and personable."
This year, he was promoted to major and then transferred to Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood and was set to be deployed to Iraq.
Born and reared in Virginia, the son of immigrant parents from a small town near Jerusalem, he joined the Army right out of high school, against his parents’ wishes. The Army, in turn, put him through college and then medical school, where he trained to be a psychiatrist.
But Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the 39-year-old man accused of Thursday’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Tex., started having second thoughts about his military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.
He had also more recently expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Having counseled scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and more recently at Fort Hood, he knew all too well the terrifying realities of war, said a cousin, Nader Hasan....
Major Hasan was not married and had two brothers, one living in Virginia and another in Jerusalem, his cousin said. The family, by and large, had prospered in the United States, with various members working in law, banking and medicine, Mr. Hasan said.
The Associated Press, quoted federal law enforcement officials saying Major Hasan had come to their attention at least six months ago because of Internet postings that mentioned suicide bombings and other threats.