Senan Kahtan is an Iraqi immigrant living in San Antonio. According to testimony of federal and military counterintelligence agents at a bail hearing for the former doctor, Kahtan left his keys at a local mosque and told workers there that he intended to free Hasan. Kahtan was arrested after telling hospital staff that he was one of Hasan’s attorneys (original reports indicate that he told nurses that he was a doctor). He was indicted later in the week for making false statements.
Testimony at the bail hearing in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo revealed further information about Kahtan’s run-in with police and the FBI after his attempt to free Hasan, as well as his mental state and possible motives for his strange behavior.
Law-enforcement officers testified that when they approached Kahtan at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) he covered his face and shouted the takbeer: “Allah akbar” (God is Great) and asked officers to please shoot him. This phrase is precisely the same as shouted by Major Nidal Hasan himself as he climbed on a table and opened fire in the processing center in Ft. Hood.
Despite such erratic and alarming behavior, Kahtan was allowed to leave the hospital on his own recognizance. Later on that evening, San Antonio civilian police arrived at Kahtan’s home to question him further. Upon seeing the officers, Kahtan again shouted the takbeer, spat on them, and reached in his coat as if to show he was armed. Police then covered Kahtan’s head and drove him to the psychiatric ward of a local hospital where it was discovered that Kahtan has bipolar disorder and had stopped taking his medication about a month prior to the incident.
While being evaluated by doctors, Kahtan informed medical staff that he went to BAMC to “free his Muslim brother” who had been “shot by infidels.” As if such statements weren’t disturbing enough, Kahtan further gestured to nurses and doctors that they would be beheaded for their actions.
Given the testimony regarding Kahtan’s mood disorder and the likely role played by his failure to properly take the medication that moderates his behavior, Judge Primomo released Kahtan on an unsecured bond, ruling that Kahtan poses no threat of harm to himself or others and that he is not a flight risk.
Army prosecutors disagreed. Mark Roomberg, representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, argued that Kahtan was likely to flee because if he were convicted of a felony, he would face possible deportation. Roomberg also averred that the violent tenor of Kahtan’s interaction with police and hospital staff indicated that he in fact did pose a threat of harm to others.
It is reported that in spite of the optimistic ruling of the magistrate, counterintelligence agents will have Kahtan under constant and vigilant surveillance. As opposed to the tragedy that resulted from official mishandling of Nidal Hasan’s thick and threatening dossier, perhaps the many red flags attached to Kahtan’s file won’t similarly be ignored by those charged with preventing further incidents and no ill will come from this man’s alleged mental instability.
Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC): U.S. Army photo