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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April 2005, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Profile: US soldier Hasan Akbar
Sergeant Hasan Akbar during his court martial
Akbar is said to have had an "attitude problem" in the army
Sgt Hasan Akbar, the US soldier sentenced to death for killing comrades during the Iraq war, was noted by officers to have had an "attitude problem" earlier in his army career.

At his court martial, Akbar sought to explain his attack by saying he had felt his life was "in jeopardy" and he had "other problems".

His father believes he had suffered religious and racial harassment in the army.

But in the view of the prosecution, Akbar was a "hate-filled, ideologically driven murderer".

And claims that he was suffering from mental illness did not prevent him being sentenced to death.

Akbar, 34 at the time of his conviction, was born Mark Fidel Kools and largely grew up in California.

His mother, Quran Bilal, changed his name when he was a boy after she remarried.

Interviewed by The Tennessean newspaper shortly after the attack, she described her son as a "half-genius" who entered the University of California in 1988 to study aeronautical and mechanical engineering.

A Muslim cleric in Los Angeles, Abdul Karim Hasan, remembered a "quiet, mild-type" boy who avoided "tussles between kids".

'Attitude problem'

It took Akbar nine years to complete college, during which he "stopped and started" classes, his university told The Associated Press.

Prosecutors cited an entry from his diary in 1997 - the year he finally graduated - in which he writes of wanting to "destroy America".

By that time, Akbar had enrolled in a Reserve Officers' Training Corps programme, and he left with the rank of sergeant. Students on the programme usually graduate as lieutenants, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

While serving as an engineer in the 101st Airborne Division, he was noted by his superiors as having an "attitude problem".

John Akbar, the convicted man's father, has been quoted by AP as saying his son "complained in vain to his superiors about religious and racial harassment before the attack" but, the news agency adds, no witnesses were produced at the trial.

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