FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. March 24 —
When Sgt. Asan Akbar was taken into custody on suspicion of
killing a fellow serviceman with a grenade, an Army spokesman said
he may have acted out of resentment. But where such bitterness may
have come from remains a mystery.
Akbar had reportedly told his mother he feared persecution
because he is a Muslim and been reprimanded recently for
insubordination. The deadly attack at a Kuwait base also wounded 15
other soldiers Sunday, three seriously.
The woman who said she is Akbar's mother, Quran Bilal, told The
Tennessean of Nashville that she was concerned her son might have
been accused because he is a Muslim. She said he was not allowed to
participate in the first Gulf War because of his religion.
"He said, `Mama, when I get over there I have the feeling they
are going to arrest me just because of the name that I have
carried,'" Bilal told the newspaper for a story published on its Web
site Sunday night.
Akbar, of the 101st Airborne Division's 326th Engineer Battalion,
was in custody, said George Heath, a civilian spokesman at Fort
Campbell. Heath said Akbar had not been charged with a crime but was
the only person being questioned in the attack.
Jim Lacey, a correspondent for Time magazine, told CNN that
military criminal investigators said Akbar was recently reprimanded
for insubordination and was told he would not join his unit's push
Heath also said Akbar had been having "an attitude problem."
The motive in the attack "most likely was resentment," said Max
Blumenfeld, another U.S. Army spokesman.
The Los Angeles Times reported in Monday's newspaper that
soldiers after the attack said they overheard Akbar declare: "You
guys are coming into our countries and you're going to rape our
women and kill our children."
Akbar's family moved last summer from Moreno Valley, 60 miles
east of Los Angeles, neighbors said. Jim Gordon, who has rented a
home across the street for five years, said he didn't know the
family well but that police often came to the house. He said the
residents played loud music and had occasional domestic
"I was surprised when I found out he was from right here," Gordon
said. He described the family as "nice people" who "had the normal
"The kids didn't live at home. They were in and out," he
Akbar was born Mark Fidel Kools. His mother said she changed his
name to Hasan Akbar after she remarried when he was a young boy.
Public records found by The Associated Press showed listings for
Hasan Akbar under the name Kools as well.
One address for Mark Fidel Kools in Los Angeles is the Bilal
Islamic Center, a collection of small buildings and mobile homes
around a mosque that's under construction.
Abdul Karim Hasan, the center's imam, or religious leader, told
The Tennessean that Hasan was known as a "quiet, mild-type
"He was never in trouble," he said. "He was always standing on
the outside of any kind of tussles between kids."
Bilal said from her Baton Rouge, La., home that the military had
not contacted her and expressed disbelief in the accusations against
her son, who she said spells his first name Hasan.
"He wouldn't try to take nobody's life," she said. "He's not like
that. He said the only thing he was going out there to do was blow
up the bridges."
A message left by The Associated Press at a listing for Bilal was
not immediately returned Sunday.
The Army identified the dead soldier as Capt. Christopher Scott
Seifert, 27, of Easton, Pa. Heath said Seifert was married. A
spokesman for Seifert's mother and father Thomas and Helen Seifert,
also of Easton said the family would not immediately speak with
"We do want to honor Chris. We have suffered a loss in our
family. We are grieving right now," said spokesman Mark Drill.
The attack happened in the command center of the 101st Division's
1st Brigade at Camp Pennsylvania at 1:30 a.m. Sunday (5:30 p.m. EST
One grenade went off in the command tent, Blumenfeld said. The
tent, the tactical operations center, runs 24 hours a day and would
always be staffed by officers and senior enlisted personnel.
Names of the wounded were not released. But a newspaper photo of
the 1st Brigade's commander, Col. Frederick Hodges, showed him with
blood on his uniform and his arm in a sling.
The FBI combed Akbar's apartment complex in Clarksville, Tenn.,
early Sunday, looking for clues, The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper in
Kools came to the University of California, Davis, in 1988,
school spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said. He was a double major in
aeronautical and mechanical engineering, and graduated with a
bachelor's degree as Hasan Karim Akbar nine years later, apparently
because "he stopped and started several times" with his classes,
Heath said Akbar should eventually come back to Fort Campbell,
though military officials could decide to convene a court martial
board in Kuwait. He said he was not sure what kind of penalty Akbar
could face if convicted.
"I don't think that the military has executed but one person,
maybe two, and they may have two in jail with the death penalty, and
appeals ongoing," Heath said.
The three soldiers with the most significant injuries from the
attack were in serious but stable condition Sunday, Heath said.
The 101st Airborne is a rapid deployment group trained to go
anywhere in the world within 36 hours. The roughly 22,000 members of
the 101st received deployment orders Feb. 6. The last time the
entire division was deployed was during the 1991 Persian Gulf War,
which began after Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait.
Most recently, the 101st hunted suspected Taliban and al-Qaida
fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Camp Pennsylvania is a rear base camp of the 101st, near the
Iraqi border. Kuwait is the main launching point for the tens of
thousands of ground forces including parts of the 101st who have
On the Net:
|Soldiers of 1st Brigade, 101st
Airborne Division (Air Assault), mourn the loss of Capt.
Christopher Seifert at a memorial ceremony, Monday, March 24,
2003, at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. Seifert was killed when
a grenade was thrown into a sleep tent early Sunday morning by
a fellow U.S. soldier. The attack left 15 other soldiers
wounded. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Spc. Joshua M. Reisner,
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