Born Mark Fidel Kools in approximately 1971, Asan Akbar is a black American convert to Islam and a former member of the U.S. military’s 101st Airborne Division. He served in Iraq when American forces invaded that country in March 2003. In the early morning hours of March 23, at a rear base camp in Kuwait, Akbar threw live fragmentation grenades into a tent where fellow American troops were still sleeping and then fired his rifle into the ensuing chaos. Two soldiers were killed and fourteen were wounded.
Prior to joining the military, Akbar had attended the University of California at Davis. During his time there, he worshipped at the student mosque controlled by the Muslim Students' Association. He had also attended the Saudi-owned Bilal Islamic Center in Los Angeles, whose imams are known for their venomous preaching of extremism.
Later, while stationed at the U.S. military installation in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Akbar attended weekly services led by a radical Muslim chaplain named Mohammed Khan, who had trained at the Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences and was certified by the Islamic Society of North America.
After Akbar’s March 2003 grenade attack, his mother, Quran Bilal, told a Nashville newspaper that prior to leaving for Iraq her son had told her, "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."
According to a Los Angeles Times report in the wake of Akbar's attack, a number of U.S. soldiers said that they had heard Akbar declare, "You guys are coming into our [Muslim] countries and you're going to rape our women and kill our children." Also after his attack, Akbar stated, "There have been over one million innocent Iraqis killed by the United States. It's a war crime."
On April 21, 2005, a military jury convicted Akbar of premeditated murder and attempted murder, marking the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. soldier was prosecuted on charges of having intentionally slain a fellow soldier in wartime. During the trial, it was revealed that Akbar, in a February 2003 diary entry, had written that he felt mistreated by the military and planned revenge: "I suppose they want to punk me or just humiliate me. Perhaps they feel that I will not do anything about that. They are right about that. I am not going to do anything about it as long as I stay here. But as soon as I am in Iraq, I am going to try and kill as many of them as possible."
Akbar was sentenced to death for his crime.