A friend from the mosque recalls Hasan
By William Wan
Ezeddine Benyedder was one of the few people at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md., who grew to be close to Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan during his time at the Mosque. He spoke with The Post as he was walking into the mosque for noon prayers.
Benyedder, 51 and also of Silver Spring, said there were no signs of anger or frustration from Hasan during his years at the mosque. But after he heard about what Hasan is alleged to have done, his mind turned back to a presentation Hasan gave to a few Muslim brothers in the library of the community center. It was a computer presentation that Hasan had been preparing to give to his superiors in the Army, but he wanted to ask his Muslim brothers for advice before delivering it.
Part of the presentation included the argument that the Army should release a soldier from duty if his religion prevented him from fulling acts ordered by the Army.
"He showed me this presentation on a CD, asking our our opinion, 'Is this okay? Is this right?'" said Benyedder.
When Hasan first began attending MCC about eight years ago, he introduced himself to Benyedder as a newcomer. They saw each other during daily prayers at the mosque. "Almost every day I saw him. He was a good friend," he said.
"Out of everyone, I did not expect him to do something like this. Believe me, he was my role model when it came to the Islam life. He was so devout. He would come to the early morning prayers ...even in the summer when it began at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., the early prayers I wouldn't go to, he would be there."
Hasan at times helped coordinate a program that gave money to those in need, Benyedder said. Hasan would collect applications from those in need, such as those who needed help paying rent.
"He only came over to my house one time, to give my roommate a ride to the airport. We knew where each other lived, but the relationships at the mosque, it is mostly something you see each other at the mosque, not always visiting each other at home. There were times we spent together eating after prayers. We went to a restaurant where they serve hallal meat. To talk and eat," Benyedder said.
"He talked about wanting to get married, but not finding a girl he likes. He wanted a woman who was devout, who wore the hijab. The last time I talked to him was four to five months ago. He told me he was transferring to Texas."
Benyedder heard the news last night just as he was getting into bed, in the form of a phone call telling him Hasan had been involved in something. He turned on the television and saw his friend's face splashed across every channel.
"I just cried. I was in tears," he said. "I couldn't understand. I don't know the words. This is not the person I knew."
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