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Detainee had attitude, military official says

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The soldier suspected of killing a fellow soldier and wounding 15 others was identified Sunday as Sgt. Asan Akbar, who, a military official said, had "an attitude problem."

Akbar, a soldier in an engineer unit, is under investigation in a grenade and small-arms attack on the command tents of the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait Sunday morning. The Pentagon identified the soldier killed in the attack as Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27.

George Heath, the deputy public affairs officer at Fort Campbell, provided few personnel details but said Akbar had been in the Army long enough to have attained the rank of sergeant and to have commanded four to eight men.

"He was having what some people might call an attitude problem," Heath said, declining to provide further explanation. Asked about a motive for the attack, he said, "I've heard some people say it may have been retribution."

Standing outside his house in Baton Rouge, La., the front door draped with an American flag, Akbar's stepfather, William Bilal, 52, pondered what might have troubled his stepson. "His mother doesn't believe it's him, you know, the heart of a mother," Bilal said. "I'm not saying it's not him, but I don't know. I'd like to know."

The family spells Akbar's first name "Hasan." His mother, Quran Bilal, was inside the house but declined to speak.

"I remember last Christmas he was complaining about the double standards in the military," Bilal said. "Hasan told me it was difficult for a black man to get rank in the military, and he was having a hard time."

In Kuwait, Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st, said that 15 soldiers had been wounded and one had died in the attack at a tent for the command and control area of the 1st Brigade. Akbar was in custody but had not been charged in the attack, officials said.

Military officials had described the sergeant as a Muslim convert.

The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, reported Sunday on its Web site that Akbar was named Mark Fidel Kools at his birth and that his mother changed his name to Hasan Akbar when he was a young boy. Heath said he could not confirm the report.

As a member of the 326th Engineer Battalion, Akbar's responsibilities included clearing land mines, razor wire and other obstacles to the division's advance.

Experts on military law said Sunday that a soldier accused in such an attack would probably face a range of charges. The most serious would be murder, which could carry the death penalty.