Nidal Malik Hasan (born September 8, 1970)
is a former United States Army Medical Corps officer who fatally shot
13 people and injured more than 30 others in the Fort Hood mass
shooting on November 5, 2009.
At his court-martial on August 6, 2013, Hasan
admitted to the shootings. A jury panel of thirteen officers convicted
him of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted
murder. On August 28, 2013, the panel unanimously recommended Hasan be
sentenced to death. Following his conviction and sentencing, Hasan was
incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort
Leavenworth in Kansas to await execution. He was also stripped of his
rank and formally dismissed from the United States Army.
During the six years that Hasan worked as an intern
and resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, colleagues and
superiors were deeply concerned about his behavior and comments. Hasan
was not married at the time and was described as socially isolated,
stressed by his work with soldiers, and upset about their accounts of
warfare. Two days before the shooting, which occurred less than a
month before he was due to deploy to Afghanistan, Hasan gave away many
of his belongings to a neighbor.
Prior to the shooting, Hasan had expressed critical
views described by colleagues as "anti-American". An investigation
conducted by the FBI concluded that his emails with the late Imam
Anwar al-Awlaki were related to his authorized professional research
and that he was not a threat. The FBI, Department of Defense and U.S.
Senate all conducted investigations after the shootings. The
Department of Defense classified the events as "workplace violence",
pending prosecution of Hasan in a court-martial. The Senate released a
report describing the mass shooting as "the worst terrorist attack on
U.S. soil since September 11, 2001."
Investigators in the FBI and U.S. Army determined
that Hasan acted alone and they have found no evidence of links to
terrorist groups. They are satisfied that his communications with
Awlaki posed no threat at the time. The decision by the Army not to
charge Hasan with terrorism was controversial.
Hasan was born in Arlington, Virginia, to Muslim
Palestinian parents who emigrated to the U.S. from al-Bireh in the
West Bank. He attended Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia,
for his freshman year, and attended William Fleming High School in
Roanoke, Virginia, after his family moved to Roanoke in 1985. He
graduated from high school in 1988. Hasan, along with his two younger
brothers, helped his parents run the family's restaurant in Roanoke.
Their father died in 1998 and their mother in 2001. As adults, one
brother continued to live in Virginia, and the other moved to
Higher education, military service, and medical career
Hasan joined the United States Army immediately
after high school, and served eight years as an enlisted soldier while
attending college. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995 with a
bachelor's degree in biochemistry, and went on to attend medical
school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences ("USUHS"
or "USU"). After earning his medical degree in 2003, Hasan completed
his residency in psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. While
an intern at Walter Reed, he received counseling and extra supervision.
According to the Washington Post, Hasan made
a presentation titled "The Koranic World View As It Relates to
Muslims in the U.S. Military"
during his senior year of residency at Walter Reed, which was not well
received by some attendees. He had recommended that the Department of
Defense "should allow Muslims [sic] Soldiers the option of
being released as "Conscientious objectors" to increase troop morale
and decrease adverse events"
In 2009, he completed a fellowship in Disaster and
Preventive Psychiatry at the Center for Traumatic Stress at USUHS.
Hasan was promoted from Captain to Major in May 2009. Before being
transferred to Fort Hood in July 2009, he received a poor performance
Retired Colonel Terry Lee, who had worked with
Hasan, later recalled that the fatal shooting of two recruiters in
Little Rock, Arkansas greatly influenced Hasan. The suspect Abdulhakim
Mujahid Muhammad later confessed he was an Al Queda terrorist though
was only charged with murder. Lee told Fox News that Hasan made "outlandish"
statements against the American military presence in Iraq and
Afghanistan, that "the Muslims should stand up and fight against the
aggressor", referring to the US. While he had expressed hope Barack
Obama would end both wars, he became more agitated, and frequently
argued with soldiers. Hasan seemed happy about the shooting in Little
Rock, except how the suspect was treated as a criminal. Hasan stated
that we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and said we should
have more people like this one, and people should "strap bombs on
themselves and go into Times Square."
In contrast to reports of radicalism from his peers
and investigations, his relatives in Palestine and the US who spoke to
the press painted a quite different picture of a quiet, peace loving
and deeply religious man who served his country proudly, but suffered
from racial harassment.
Cousin Nader Hasan disputed that Hasan had ever
been "disenchanted with the military", but that he dreaded war after
counseling soldiers who had returned with post-traumatic stress
disorder. He was "mortified by the idea" of deploying after told on a
"daily basis the horrors they saw over there." Nader claimed that
Hasan had been harassed by his fellow soldiers. "He hired a military
attorney to try to have the issue resolved, pay back the government,
to get out of the military. He was at the end of trying everything."
Hasan's aunt also said that Hasan sought discharge
because of harassment relating to his Islamic faith. An army spokesman
could not confirm the relatives' statements; the deputy director of
the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council stated
that the reported harassment was "inconsistent" with their records.
His uncle Rafiq Hamad who lives in occupied
territories in Ramallah said Hasan was a gentle and quiet man who was
so weak that he fainted while observing childbirth, and instead chose
psychiatry. He was deeply sensitive who once fed his pet bird from his
mouth, and mourned the bird for months after it died. According to the
uncle, "after he lost his parents he tried to replace their love by
reading a lot of books, including the Koran."
Also near Ramallah, cousin Mohammed Hasan said that
“because he’s a Muslim he didn’t want to go to Afghanistan or Iraq,
and he didn’t want to expose himself to violence and death”. Mohammed
stated his cousin was a "pleasant young man" who was happy to have
graduated and to be joining the army after his uncle and cousins had
also served. They never talked about politics, and nothing seemed
strange, but "He was being treated like a Muslim, like an Arab, rather
than an American, he was being discriminated against".
In August 2009, according to a Killeen police
report, someone vandalized Hasan's automobile with a key; repair was
estimated at $1,000. Police charged another soldier, whom a neighbor
said vandalized Hasan's vehicle because of Hasan's religion.
According to military records, Hasan was unmarried.
However, David Cook, a former neighbor, said two sons were living with
Hasan around 1997, and attending local schools. Cook said, "As far as
I know, he was a single father. I never saw a wife."
Hasan received the Army Service Ribbon as a private
in 1988 after completing advanced individual training, the National
Defense Service Medal twice for service during the time periods of the
Gulf War and the War on Terrorism, and the Global War on Terrorism
Service Medal for support service during the War on Terrorism.
Religious and ideological beliefs
According to one of his cousins, Hasan was a
practicing Muslim who became more devout after his parents died in
1998 and 2001. His cousin did not recall him ever expressing any
radical or anti-American views, and family also described Hasan as a
peaceful person, and a good American. One of his cousins said Hasan
turned against the wars after hearing stories of soldiers returning
from Afghanistan and Iraq. His aunt said that he did not tell the
family he was being deployed to Afghanistan.
In 2001, Hasan attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in
the Falls Church area. The mosque was also attended during this period
by two September 11 hijackers (Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour) and by
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (who was later convicted of providing material
support to al-Qaeda and conspiracy to assassinate President George W.
Bush). A law enforcement official said that the FBI would probably
look into whether Hasan associated with the hijackers.
Anwar al-Awlaki was the mosque's imam at the time.
Hasan reportedly has deep respect for al-Awlaki's teachings. Hasan
sent Awlaki as many as 20 e-mail messages from December 2008 on, but a
counter-terrorism specialist who reviewed the emails at the time was
of the view that the e-mails were innocuous. Soon after the attack, on
his website Anwar al-Awlaki praised Hasan for the shooting, and
encouraged other Muslims serving in the military to "follow in the
footsteps of men like Nidal."
Faizul Khan, the former imam of a Silver Spring,
Maryland, mosque where Hasan prayed several times a week said he was
"a reserved guy with a nice personality. We discussed religious
matters. He was a fairly devout Muslim." Hasan often expressed his
wish to get married, and Khan said "I got the impression that he was a
During his psychiatry fellowship at USUHS, Air
Force Lt. Col. Dr. Val Finnell, a graduate school classmate in the MPH
program, said that while other students' projects focused on topics
such as water contamination, Hasan's project dealt with "whether the
war on terror is a war against Islam." According to retired Colonel
Terry Lee, "He said 'maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against
the aggressor'. At first we thought he meant help the armed forces,
but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make
comments we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."
Hasan's business card describes him as a
psychiatrist specializing in Behavioral Health – Mental Health – Life
Skills, and contains the acronyms SoA(SWT). According to investigators,
the acronym "SoA" is commonly used on jihadist websites as an acronym
for "Soldier of Allah" or "Servant of Allah", and SWT is commonly used
by Muslims to mean "subhanahu wa ta'ala" (Glory to God). The
cards neglected to mention his military rank.
A review of Hasan's computer and his multiple
e-mail accounts has revealed visits to websites espousing radical
Islamist ideas, a senior law enforcement official said.
Hasan had come to the attention of federal
authorities at least six months before the attacks, because of
internet postings he appeared to have made discussing suicide bombings
and other threats, though authorities did not at the time definitively
tie the postings to him. The postings, made in the name "NidalHasan,"
likened a suicide bomber to a soldier who throws himself on a grenade
to save his colleagues, and sacrifices his life for a "more noble
cause." No official investigation was opened.
ABC News reported that officials were aware that
Hasan had attempted to contact Al Qaeda, and that Hasan had "more
unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI" than just
Hasan was investigated by the FBI after
intelligence agencies intercepted at least 18 e-mails between him and
al-Awlaki between December 2008 and June 2009. Even before the
contents of the e-mails were revealed, terrorism expert Jarret
Brachman said that Hasan's contacts with al-Awlaki should have raised
"huge red flags". According to Brachman, al-Awlaki is a major
influence on radical English-speaking jihadis internationally.
In one of the e-mails, Hasan wrote al-Awlaki: "I
can't wait to join you" in the afterlife. Hasan also asked al-Awlaki
when jihad is appropriate, and whether it is permissible if
innocents are killed in a suicide attack. In the months before the
shooting, Hasan increased his contacts with al-Awlaki to discuss how
to transfer funds abroad without coming to the attention of law
A DC-based Joint Terrorism Task Force operating
under the FBI was notified of the e-mails, and the information was
reviewed by one of its Defense Criminal Investigative Service
personnel. Army employees were informed of the e-mails, but did not
perceive any terrorist threat in Hasan's questions. Instead, they
viewed them as general questions about spiritual guidance with regard
to conflicts between Islam and military service, and judged them to be
consistent with legitimate mental health research about Muslims in the
The assessment was that there was not sufficient
information for a larger investigation. Despite two Defense Department
investigators on two joint task forces reviewing Hasan's e-mails,
Defense Department higher-ups said they were not notified of the
investigations before the shootings. A senior government official said
to ABC News that Hasan also had contact with other people being
tracked by the FBI, who have not been publicly identified.
In October 2008, Charles Allen, US Undersecretary
of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis, had warned that
al-Awlaki "targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging
terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen." After the Fort Hood
shootings took place and news of the e-mails became public, Allen, no
longer in government, said:
"I find it difficult to understand why an Army
major would be in repeated contact with an Islamic extremist like
Anwar al-Awlaki, who preaches a hateful ideology directed at
inciting violence against the United States and the West... It is
hard to see how repeated contact would in any legitimate way further
his research as a psychiatrist."
And former CIA officer Bruce Riedel opined:
"E-mailing a known al-Qaeda sympathizer should have set off alarm
bells. Even if he was exchanging recipes, the bureau should have put
out an alert."
Al-Awlaki had set up a website, with a blog on
which he shared his views. On December 11, 2008, he condemned any
Muslim who seeks a religious decree "that would allow him to serve in
the armies of the disbelievers and fight against his brothers." The
NEFA Foundation noted that on December 23, 2008, six days after he
said Hasan first e-mailed him, al-Awlaki wrote on his blog: "The
bullets of the fighters of Afghanistan and Iraq are a reflection of
the feelings of the Muslims towards America".
In "44 Ways to Support Jihad," another sermon
posted on his blog in February 2009, al-Awlaki encouraged others to "fight
jihad", and explained how to give money to the mujahideen or their
families after they've died. Al-Awlaki's sermon also encouraged others
to conduct weapons training, and raise children "on the love of Jihad."
Also that month, he wrote: "I pray that Allah destroys America and all
its allies." He wrote as well: "We will implement the rule of Allah on
Earth by the tip of the sword, whether the masses like it or not."
On July 14, he criticized armies of Muslim
countries that assist the U.S. military, saying, "the blame should be
placed on the soldier who is willing to follow orders ... who sells
his religion for a few dollars." In a sermon on his blog on July 15,
2009, entitled "Fighting Against Government Armies in the Muslim
World," al-Awlaki wrote, "Blessed are those who fight against [American
soldiers], and blessed are those shuhada [martyrs] who are killed by
A fellow Muslim officer at Fort Hood said Hasan's
eyes "lit up" when gushing about al-Awlaki's teachings. Some
investigators believe that Hasan's contacts with al-Awlaki are what
pushed him toward violence.
Fort Hood shooting
In the Fort Hood shooting, on November 5, 2009, a
gunman reported to be shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (English – "God
is greatest") opened fire in the Soldier Readiness Center of Fort Hood,
located just outside Killeen, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 30
Sergeant Kimberly D. Munley encountered the gunman
exiting the building in pursuit of a wounded soldier. Munley and the
gunman exchanged shots; Munley was hit three times: twice through her
left leg and once in her right wrist, knocking her to the ground. In
the meantime, civilian police officer Sergeant Mark Todd arrived and
fired at the gunman. The gunman was hit and felled by shots from Todd
and Munley. Todd approached the gunman and kicked a pistol out of his
hand. Hasan was placed in handcuffs as he fell unconscious. The
incident lasted about 10 minutes.
He was to be deployed to Afghanistan, contrary to
earlier reports that he was to go to Iraq, on November 28. Prior to
the incident, Hasan told a local store owner that he was stressed
about his imminent deployment to Afghanistan since he might then have
to fight or kill fellow Muslims. According to Jeff Sadoski,
spokesperson of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, "Hasan was upset
about his deployment".
Hasan gave away furniture from his home on the
morning of the shooting, saying he was going to be deployed on Friday.
He also handed out copies of the Quran. Kamran Pasha wrote about a
Muslim officer at Fort Hood who said he prayed with Hasan on the day
of the Fort Hood shooting, and that Hasan "appeared relaxed and not in
any way troubled or nervous". This officer believed that the shootings
may have been motivated by religious radicalism.
Hasan was initially hospitalized in the intensive
care unit at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San
Antonio, Texas, under heavy guard, with his condition described as "stable".
News reports on November 7, 2009, indicated that he was in a coma. On
November 9, Brooke Army Medical Center spokesman Dewey Mitchell
announced that Hasan had regained consciousness, and been able to talk
since he was taken off a ventilator on November 7.
On November 13, Hasan's attorney, John Galligan,
announced that Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down from the bullet
wounds to his spine, and will likely never walk again. In mid-December,
Galligan indicated that Hasan was moved from intensive care to a
private hospital room, yet still remained under guard while recovering.
Galligan further stated that doctors said Hasan would need at least
two months in the hospital to learn "to care for himself".
On November 7, 2009, while Hasan was communicative,
he refused to talk to investigators. On November 12 and December 2,
respectively, Hasan was officially charged with 13 counts of
premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the
Uniform Code of Military Justice, thus making him eligible for the
death penalty if convicted.
Although authorities did not specify at that time
if they would seek the death penalty in the case, a senior military
official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Colonel
Michael Mulligan would serve as the Army's lead prosecutor. Mulligan
served as the lead prosecutor on the Hasan Akbar case, in which a
soldier received the death penalty for the double-murder of two
John P. Galligan, a retired Army JAG colonel,
represents Hasan. On November 21, in a hearing held in Hasan's
hospital room, a military magistrate ruled that there was probable
cause that Hasan committed the shooting spree at Fort Hood, and
ordered him to pretrial confinement until his court martial. Hasan
remained in intensive care in accordance with the magistrate's order.
On November 23, Galligan said that Hasan would
likely plead not guilty to the charges against him and may use an
insanity defense at his court martial. Army officials initially stated
that doctors would evaluate Hasan by mid-January 2010 to determine his
competency to stand trial as well as his mental state at the time of
the shooting, but delayed the exam on request from Galligan until
after the Article 32 hearing. The Army also imposed restrictions on
Hasan that he speak only in English on the phone or with visitors
unless an interpreter is present. Hasan was moved from Brooke Army
Medical Center to the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas on April 9,
2010. Fort Hood negotiated a renewable $207,000 contract with Bell
County in March to house Hasan for six months.
Galligan announced that the Army officers
prosecuting the case will seek the death penalty, stating, "It is the
first 'formal notice' but, of course, it has been a virtual given from
the start. In short, the Army has been pursuing death from the git-go."
The prosecutors filed a memo on April 28, 2010 stating that the "aggravating
factor" necessary for pursuit of the death penalty will be satisfied
if Hasan is found guilty of more than one murder. The actual decision
to seek the death penalty will follow the Article 32 hearing,
currently scheduled for October 4, 2010 after an initial delay. On
September 15, 2010 Hasan's attorney stated he intends to seek a closed
court hearing during those proceedings.
On October 12, 2010, Hasan was due to appear for
his first broad military hearing into the attack. The hearing,
formally called an Article 32 proceeding, akin to a grand jury hearing
but open to the public, was expected to span four to six weeks. The
hearing, designed to help the top Army commander at Ft. Hood determine
whether there was enough evidence to court-martial Hasan, was
scheduled to begin calling witnesses but was delayed by scheduling and
procedural disputes. The hearing proceeded on October 14 with witness
testimonies from soldiers who survived the shootings.
On November 15, the military hearing ended when
Galligan declined to offer a defense case, on the grounds that the
White House and Defense Department refused to hand over documents he
requested pertaining to an intelligence review of the shootings.
Neither the defense nor prosecution offered to deliver a closing
On November 18, Colonel James L. Pohl, who served
as the investigating officer for the Article 32 hearing, recommended
that Hasan be court-martialed and face the death penalty. His
recommendation was forwarded to another U.S. Army Colonel at Ft. Hood,
who, after filing his own report, presented his recommendation to the
post commander. The post commander made the final decision on whether
Hasan would face a trial and the death penalty. On July 6, 2011, the
Fort Hood post commander referred the case to a general court-martial,
authorized to consider the death penalty.
On July 27, 2011, Fort Hood Chief Circuit Judge
Colonel Gregory Gross set a March 5, 2012, trial date. Hasan declined
to enter any plea and Judge Gross granted a request by Hasan's
attorneys to defer the plea to an unspecified date. Hasan notified
Gross that he had released John Galligan, the civilian attorney who
has been his lead attorney in previous court appearances, choosing to
be represented by three military lawyers at no cost to him.
On February 2, 2012, a military judge delayed trial
until June 12, 2012. Lt.Col. Kris Poppe, Hasan's lead attorney, said
the request to delay the trial was "purely a matter of necessity of
adequate time for pretrial preparation".
On April 10, 2012, Hasan's lawyers requested
another continuance to move the trial start date from June to late
October in order to review the large volume of paperwork and evidence
and interview more witnesses. Gross agreed to take the request under
advisement. Judge Gross denied a defense motion seeking a Defense
Initiated Victim Outreach specialist to testify, Fort Hood officials
said. The new program is intended to help the defense respond to the
needs of survivors and victims’ families and possibly change their
attitudes if they support the death penalty. Gross also denied a
defense request to force prosecutors to provide notes from meetings
and conversations with President Barack Obama, the defense secretary
and other high-ranking government officials after the November 5,
2009, shootings. Defense attorneys had argued they want to determine
if anything was discussed that may have unlawfully influenced Hasan’s
chain of command to prosecute him. On April 18, 2012, Judge Gross
granted the defense motion for a continuance in part, rescheduling the
trial for August 20, 2012.
In July 2012, having previously instructed Hasan to
follow army regulations and shave his beard grown during the past
several months, the judge found Hasan in contempt of court and fined
him. He was fined once more for retaining his beard, and was warned by
Judge Colonel Gregory Gross, that he could be forcibly shaved prior to
his court-martial. On August 15, Hasan was scheduled to enter pleas to
the charges brought against him before the beginning of the
court-martial; he would not be allowed to plead guilty for the
premeditated murder charges as the prosecution is pursuing the death
penalty in his case.
The hearing and the preceding court-martial was
delayed by Hasan's objections to being shaved against his will, and
his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
regarding the matter; through his attorneys, Hasan has said that his
beard is part of his religious beliefs. The prosecutors argued that
Hasan was simply trying to delay his trial.
On August 27, the Appeals Court announced that the
trial could continue, but did not rule whether Hasan could be forcibly
shaved nor did they set a new date for the start of the trial. The
Appeals Court had rejected previous attempts by Hasan to receive
"religious accommodation" to wear his beard. On September 6, Colonel
Gross ruled that Hasan be forcibly shaved after it was determined that
the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to this case;
however, it will not be enforced until all of Hasan's appeals are
exhausted. During the September 6 hearing, Hasan twice offered to
plead guilty, however U.S. Army rules prohibit the judge of accepting
a guilty plea in a death penalty case.
Hasan remains incarcerated and uses a wheelchair.
He continues to receive paychecks, and his medical expenses are paid
by the military.
On June 3, 2013, a military judge allowed Hasan to
represent himself at his upcoming murder trial. His attorneys will
remain on the case but only if he asks for their help. Jury selection
is set to start on June 5 and opening arguments are scheduled to begin
on July 1. U.S. Army Judge Colonel Tara Osborn ruled on June 14, 2013,
that Hasan cannot claim as a part of his defense that he was defending
the Taliban. During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Hasan
justified his actions during the Fort Hood shooting by claiming that
the US military was at war with Islam.
During the first day of the trial on August 6, Hasan—who was
representing himself— admitted that he was the gunman during the Fort
Hood shootings in 2009 and stated that the evidence would show that he
was the shooter. He also told the panel hearing that he had "switched
sides" and regarded himself as a Mujahideen waging "jihad" against the
United States. By August 7, disagreements between Hasan and his
stand-by defense team led Judge Osborn to temporarily suspend the
proceedings. Hasan's defense attorneys were concerned that Hasan was
trying to help prosecutors achieve a death sentence. Since the
prosecution has sought the death penalty, his defense team has sought
to prevent this.
On August 8, Judge Osborn ruled that Hasan could
continue to represent himself during the trial and rejected his
standby defense team's requests that they take over Hasan's defense or
have their roles reduced. The judge also declined the defense lawyers'
request that they be removed from the case. On August 9, Hasan allowed
his two of his three standby defense lawyers—Lieutenant Colonel
Christopher Martin and Major Joseph Marcee—to seek leave in order to
prepare an appeal arguing that the defendant was seeking the death
penalty, thus undermining their rules of "professional conduct". His
third attorney Lieutenant Colonel Kris Poppe remained behind to
observe the court proceedings. Court proceedings also resumed with the
prosecution presenting testimonies from several soldiers who had
survived the Fort Hood shooting. As of August 14, more than 60
prosecution witnesses have testified and all have identified Hasan as
the shooter. Court proceedings have been speedy since Hasan has raised
few objects and declined to cross-examine most of the witnesses.
By August 13, prosecutors had shifted to presenting
forensic evidence with FBI agents present at the crime scene
testifying that they had found so much evidence at the crime scene
that they ran out of markers. This evidence included 146 shell casings
and six magazines. The New York Times also published remarks by Hasan
from a mental health report supplied by the defendant's civil attorney
John Galligan. According to these documents, Hasan told medical health
experts in 2010 that he "would still be a martyr" even if he was
convicted and executed by the US government. Hasan, acting as his own
defense lawyer, had offered to share the report with prosecutors
during his court martial. However, Judge Osborn blocked prosecutors
from seeing the report on August 14.
On August 19, she also excluded prosecuting
evidence relating to Hasan's early radicalization and evidence which
presented the Fort Hood shooting as a "copycat" based on the actions
of Hasan Akbar, a Muslim U.S. Army soldier sentenced to death for
attacking fellow soldiers prior to the Iraq War.
On August 20, 2013, the prosecution rested its case
against Hasan. They had called nearly 90 witnesses over 11 days with
the fast pace of proceedings being attributed to Hasan's refusal to
cross-examine most of the witnesses. Throughout the proceedings, he
only questioned three witnesses. While the defense is scheduled to
present its case on Wednesday, Hasan indicated that he had no plans to
call any defense witnesses. Earlier, he had planned to call two
defense witnesses: one a mitigation expert in capital murder cases and
the other a California professor, specializing in philosophy and
religion. Hasan also formally declined to argue that the prosecution
had not proven its case. Ultimately, Hasan did not call any witnesses
or testify in his own defense and rested his defense on August 21,
2013. On August 22, 2013, Hasan declined to give a closing argument.
On August 28, 2013, a military jury consisting of
nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels, and one major recommended
the death penalty for convicted Fort Hood shooter Hasan, for the 2009
massacre on the Army base that left 13 people dead and 32 others
Verdict and sentencing
On August 23, 2013, Hasan was declared guilty on
all charges, and thus became eligible for the death penalty. Those
deliberations began on August 26, 2013. By August 27, the
thirteen-member jury panel heard testimony from 24 victims and family
members of those wounded and killed during the 2009 Fort Hood
shootings. Throughout the proceedings, Hasan declined to speak in his
own defense or question any of the witnesses. He also did not provide
any material explaining his decision not to mount a defense throughout
the trial and sentencing phases. At the end, Hasan, acting as his own
attorney, told the jury panel that the defense had rested its case.
Judge Tara Osborn accepted Hasan's decision. In his final statement,
lead prosecutor Colonel Mike Mulligan said
[Hassan] can never be a martyr because he has
nothing to give... Do not be misled; do not be confused; do not be
fooled. He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. This is not
his gift to God, it's his debt to society. He will not now and will
not ever be a martyr.
The jury panel then reconvened to decide on
sentencing. On August 28, 2013, the jury panel recommended Hasan be
sentenced to death. The panel also recommended Hasan forfeit his
military pay and be dismissed from the Army, a separation for officers
carrying the same consequences as a dishonorable discharge.
Commendations from Islamists
While the west remains divided on the question of
Hasan's motives, and many moderate Muslims condemned the attack, many
individuals and groups supported the operation in Islamist terms.
After the Fort Hood shooting, on his now temporarily inoperable
website (apparently because some web hosting companies took it down),
al-Awlaki praised Hasan's actions:
Nidal Hassan is a hero. He is a man of conscience
who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and
serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.... Any
decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards
his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier.
The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a
war against Islam....
Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their
way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any
dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a
Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army
is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.
The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the
dilemma of the Muslim American community.... The Muslim
organizations in America came out in a pitiful chorus condemning
The fact that fighting against the US army is an
Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. No scholar with a grain of
Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today
have the right—rather the duty—to fight against American tyranny.
Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and
Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims. The American Muslims who
condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim
Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy....
May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience,
perseverance, and steadfastness, and we ask Allah to accept from him
his great heroic act. Ameen.
Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea interviewed
al-Awlaki in November 2009. Al-Awlaki said he "neither ordered nor
pressured ... Hasan to harm Americans". Al-Awlaki said Hasan first e-mailed
him December 17, 2008, introducing himself by writing: "Do you
remember me? I used to pray with you at the Virginia mosque." Hasan
said he had become a devout Muslim around the time al-Awlaki was
preaching at Dar al-Hijrah, in 2001 and 2002, and al-Awlaki said 'Maybe
Nidal was affected by one of my lectures.'" He added: "It was clear
from his e-mails that Nidal trusted me. Nidal told me: 'I speak with
you about issues that I never speak with anyone else.'" Al-Awlaki said
Hasan arrived at his own conclusions regarding the acceptability of
violence in Islam, and said he was not the one to initiate this. Shaea
summarized their relationship by saying, "Nidal was providing evidence
to Anwar, not vice versa."
Asked whether Hasan mentioned Fort Hood as a target
in his e-mails, Shaea declined to comment. However, al-Awlaki said the
shooting was acceptable in Islam because it was a form of jihad, as
the West began the hostilities with the Muslims. Referring to the post
on his blog praising the shootings after they occurred, al-Awlaki said
he "blessed the act because it was against a military target. And the
soldiers who were killed were not normal soldiers, but those who were
trained and prepared to go to Iraq and Afghanistan".
In March 2010, Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn
singled out Hasan for praise that despite not being a member of Al
Qaeda, the "Mujahid brother ... has shown us what one righteous Muslim
with an assault rifle can do for his religion and brothers in faith
... is a pioneer, a trailblazer and a role-model ... and yearns to
discharge his duty to Allah and play a part in the defense of Islam
and Muslims against the savage, heartless and bloody Zionist Crusader
assault on our religion, sacred places and homelands.”
Hours before the attack, CNN posted an interview
and video of Revolution Muslim in which Younes Abdullah Mohammed
preached that U.S. troops as well as the September 11, 2001 attacks in
the United States were "legitimate targets" and that Osama bin Laden
was their model. The evening after the attack, Revolution Muslim
posted that Hasan, "An officer and a gentleman was injured while
partaking in a preemptive attack., Get Well Soon Major Nidal, We Love
You.” American soldiers were described as "slain terrorists in the
eternal hellfire," CNN aired the video the evening after the shootings,
although at the time, no connection was made between the statements
and the shooting.
A statement issued by the Ansar Al-Mujahideen
Network on November 24, 2009 cited Hasan as a role model,
congratulating Hasan for his "brave and heroic deed" for standing up
to the "modern Zionist-Christian Crusades" against the Muslim
community. One post celebrated "We out smarted the kuffar [non-Muslims]
on 9/11 and we did it again today!" Another praised "13 pigs for fuel
in hell fire". Another forum Islamic Awakening noted "Muslims all over
the world are celebrating, Thirteen less kuffar (non-Muslims)".
A military activist, Selena Coppa, said: "This man
was a psychiatrist and was working with other psychiatrists every day
and they failed to notice how deeply disturbed someone right in their
Hasan's perceived beliefs were a cause for concern
among some of his peers. According to an unnamed source, Hasan was
disciplined for "proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients
and colleagues" while at Uniformed Services University of the Health
Sciences (USUHS); The Telegraph also reported an incident in
which a lecture, expected to be of a medical nature, became a diatribe
against "infidels." Air Force doctor Val Finnell, a former medical
school classmate who had complained to superiors about Hasan's "anti-American
rants", said: "The system is not doing what it's supposed to do. He at
least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease
and desist, and to shape up or ship out."
Even before the contents of the emails were
revealed, author Jarret Brachman said that Nidal Malik Hasan's
contacts with al-Awlaki should have raised "huge red flags". According
to Brachman, al-Awlaki is a major influence on radical English-speaking
The Dallas Morning News reported on November
17 that ABC News, citing anonymous sources, reported that
investigators suspect that the shootings were triggered by the refusal
of Hasan's superiors to process his requests that sought to have some
of his patients prosecuted for war crimes based on statements they
made during psychiatric sessions with him. Dallas attorney Patrick
McLain, a former Marine, opined that Hasan may have been legally
justified in reporting what patients disclosed, but that it was
impossible to be sure without knowing exactly what was said, while
fellow psychiatrists complained to superiors that Hasan's actions
violated physician–patient privilege.
Shortly after the shooting, General George Casey,
Chief of Staff of the Army, indicated concern that the "real tragedy"
would be harming the cause of diversity, saying, “As great a tragedy
as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as
well,” Several months later, in a February 2010 interview, Casey said
, "Our diversity not only in our Army, but in our country, is a
strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity
becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."
FBI Director Robert Mueller has appointed William
Webster, a former director of the FBI, to conduct an independent
review of the bureau's handling of possible warning signs from Hasan.
This review is expected to be long-term and in-depth, with Webster
selected for the job due to being, as Mueller stated, "uniquely
qualified" for such a review.
Reaction to statements and overseas contacts
On the November 9, 2009 Fox News Sunday
show, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman called for a probe by the Senate
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which he
chairs. Lieberman said, "if the reports that we're receiving of
various statements he made, acts he took, are valid, he had turned to
Islamist extremism ... if that is true, the murder of these 13 people
was a terrorist act ... I think it's very important to let the Army
and the FBI go forward with this investigation before we reach any
The November 23 cover of both the European and U.S.
editions of Time Magazine had a picture of Hasan with the title
"Terrorist?" over his eyes. Terrorism scholar and Georgetown
University professor Bruce Hoffman told the magazine that "I used to
argue it was only terrorism if it were part of some identifiable,
organized conspiracy... the nature of terrorism is changing, and Major
Hasan may be an example of that". The article also said "Hasan's
motives were mixed enough that everyone with an agenda could find
markers in the trail he left," and acknowledged as well that "Hasan
matched the classic model of the lone, strange, crazy killer: the
quiet and gentle man who formed few close human attachments." The
Christian Science Monitor also raised the question of terrorism in
its November 9, 2009 edition.
On November 14, The New York Times also
asked: "Was Major Hasan a terrorist, driven by religious extremism to
attack fellow soldiers he had come to see as the enemy? Was he a
troubled loner, a misfit who cracked when ordered sent to a war zone
whose gruesome casualties he had spent the last six years caring for?
Or was he both?" The article goes on to say that "Major Hasan may be
the latest example of an increasingly common type of terrorist, one
who has been self-radicalized with the help of the Internet and who
wreaks havoc without support from overseas networks and without having
to cross a border to reach his target."
A Rasmussen poll has found that 60 percent of
likely American voters believe the shootings should be investigated by
military authorities as a terrorist act. An analyst of terror
investigations, Carl Tobias, said that the attack did not fit the
profile of terrorism: "Terrorist attacks are undertaken by people who
typically ... have some agenda they want to forward politically, and
from what I see in the news, this is just a person acting individually
because he doesn't want to deploy overseas".
Following his conviction and sentencing, Nidal
Hasan was incarcerated at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at
Fort Leavenworth in Kansas to await execution. According to Chris Haug,
Fort Hood's Chief of Media Relations, Hasan was also stripped of his
rank and dishonorably discharged from the US Army. Hasan would only be
referred to as "Inmate" while on death roll.
On September 5, 2013, it was reported in several
news media that Hasan had his beard forcibly shaved. Fort Leavenworth
authorities justified their decision by citing that Hasan would be
subject to army regulations even though he had been dismissed from the
Army and stripped of all ranks and pay. Despite Army regulations
banning personnel from having facial hair, Hasan had begun growing a
beard following the Fort Hood Shooting in 2009 by citing his religious
Although no new photos of Hasan have been released
since his incarceration, military authorities have confirmed that a
video recording of the forced shaving exists, as per military
regulations. In response, John Galligan, Hasan's former civilian
lawyer, has planned to sue the military for violating his religious
beliefs. Galligan argued that a military council in 2012 had allowed
Hasan to keep his beard for the duration of the trial and dismissed
the Army's actions as vindictive.
The Fort Hood shooting was a mass shooting that took place
on November 5, 2009, at
Fort Hood—the most populous US military installation in the world,
located just outside
Killeen, Texas—in which a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 30
The sole suspect is
Nidal Malik Hasan, a
U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist. He was shot by
Department of the Army Civilian Police officers, and is now
paralyzed from the chest down.
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of
premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the
Uniform Code of Military Justice; he may face additional charges
Hasan is an American-born Muslim
of Palestinian descent. Internal Army reports indicate officers within
the Army were aware of Hasan's tendencies toward radical Islam since
2005. Additionally, investigations before and after the shooting
discovered e-mail communications between Hasan and Yemen-based cleric
Anwar al-Awlaki, who quickly declared Hasan a hero, as "fighting
against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty". After communications
between the two were forwarded to FBI terrorism task forces in 2008,
they determined that Hasan was not a threat prior to the shooting and
that his questions to al-Awlaki were consistent with medical research.
In November 2009, after examining the e-mails and previous
terrorism investigations, the FBI had found no information to indicate
he had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot.
The U.S. has since classified Anwar al-Awlaki as a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist, and the UN considers Awlaki to be
associated with al-Qaeda.
Yet a year after the attack, questions lingered of whether the
incident was caused by mental health issues or Hasan was a terrorist,
as government agencies have still not officially linked Major Hassan
to any radical groups.
At approximately 1:34 p.m. local time, Hasan entered his workplace,
the Soldier Readiness Center, where personnel receive routine medical
treatment immediately prior to and on return from deployment.
According to eyewitnesses, he took a seat at an empty table, bowed his
head for several seconds, and then stood up and opened fire. Initially,
Hasan reportedly jumped onto a desk and shouted: "Allahu Akbar!"
before firing at soldiers processing through cubicles in the center,
and on a crowd gathered for a college graduation ceremony scheduled
for 2 p.m. in a nearby theater. Witnesses reported that Hasan appeared
to focus on soldiers in uniform. He had two handguns: a FN Five-seven
semi-automatic pistol, which he had purchased at a civilian gun store,
and a .357 Magnum revolver which he may not have fired.
Unarmed army reserve Captain John Gaffaney attempted to stop Hasan,
either by charging the shooter or throwing a chair at him, but was
mortally wounded in the process. Witnesses also testified that
civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill tried to charge Hasan with
a chair before being shot and killed. Base civilian police Sergeant
Kimberly Munley, who had arrived on the scene in response to the
report of an emergency at the center, encountered Hasan exiting the
building in pursuit of a wounded soldier. Hasan shot Munley, while
witnesses say Munley also fired at Hasan. Munley was hit two times:
once in her thigh and once in her knee, knocking her to the ground.
Hasan then walked up to Munley and kicked her pistol out of reach. As
the shooting continued outside, nurses and medics entered the building,
secured the doors with a belt and began helping the wounded.
In the meantime, civilian police officer Sergeant Mark Todd arrived
and fired at Hasan. Todd said: "He was firing at people as they were
trying to run and hide. Then he turned and fired a couple of rounds at
me. I didn't hear him say a word, he just turned and fired." Hasan was
felled by shots from Todd, who then kicked a pistol out of Hasan's
hand, and placed him in handcuffs as he fell unconscious.
An investigator later testified that 146 spent shell casings were
recovered inside the building. Another 68 were collected outside, for
a total of 214. A medic who treated Hasan said his pockets were full
of pistol magazines. When the shooting ended, he was still carrying
177 rounds of unfired ammunition in his pockets, contained in both 20-
and 30-round magazines. The incident, which lasted about 10 minutes,
resulted in 30 people wounded, and 13 killed — 12 soldiers and one
civilian; 11 died at the scene, and two died later in a hospital.
Initially, three soldiers were believed to have been involved in
two other soldiers were detained, but subsequently released. The Fort
Hood website posted a notice indicating that the shooting was not a
drill. Immediately after the shooting, the base and surrounding areas
locked down by
military police and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID)
until around 7 p.m.
local time. In addition,
Texas DPS troopers, deputies from the Bell County Sheriff's
FBI agents from Austin and Waco were dispatched. President Obama
was briefed on the incident and later made a statement about the
There were 43 shooting casualties. Among the 13 killed were 12
soldiers, one of whom was pregnant, and a single Army civilian
employee. Thirty others were wounded and required hospitalization.
Hasan, the alleged gunman, was taken to Scott & White hospital, a
trauma center in Temple, Texas, and later moved to Brooke Army Medical
Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was held under heavy guard.
He was hit by at least four shots, and is said to be quadriplegic.
Hasan is currently being held at the Bell County jail in Belton Texas.
Ten of the injured were treated at a trauma center in Temple,
Texas. Seven more wounded victims were taken to Metroplex Adventist
Hospital in Killeen. Eight others received hospital treatment for
shock. Of those wounded at least 17 were service-members, and at least
seven were civilians. On November 20 it was announced that eight of
the wounded service-members will still deploy overseas.
The 13 killed were:
Rank or occupation
Michael Grant Cahill
Libardo Eduardo Caraveo
Justin Michael DeCrow
John P. Gaffaney
Serra Mesa, California
Mountain City, Tennessee
Jason Dean Hunt
Amy Sue Krueger
Aaron Thomas Nemelka
West Jordan, Utah
Private First Class
Michael S. Pearson
Private First Class
Russell Gilbert Seager
Francheska Velez ‡
Private First Class
Juanita L. Warman
Kham See Xiong
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Private First Class
- ‡ Francheska Velez was pregnant at the time of her death
Nidal Malik Hasan, MD, a 39-year-old U.S. Army psychiatrist of
Palestinian descent, is the sole suspect in the shootings. Hasan is a
practicing Muslim who, according to one of his cousins, became more
devout after the deaths of his parents in 1998 and 2001. His cousin
did not recall him ever expressing radical or
anti-American views. Another cousin, Nader Hasan, a lawyer in
Virginia, said that Nidal Hasan's opinion turned against the wars
after he heard stories from people who returned from Afghanistan and
Hasan attended the
Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in
Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001, at the same time as
Nawaf al-Hazmi and
Hani Hanjour, two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks.
A law enforcement official said that the FBI will probably look into
whether Hasan associated with the hijackers. A review of Hasan's
computer and his multiple e-mail accounts has revealed visits to
websites espousing radical
Islamist ideas, a senior law enforcement official said.
Once, while presenting what was supposed to be a medical lecture to
other psychiatrists, Hasan instead talked about Islam, and stated that
non-believers would be sent to hell, decapitated, set on fire, and
have burning oil poured down their throats. A Muslim psychiatrist in
the audience raised his hand, and challenged Hasan's claims. According
Associated Press, Hasan's lecture also "justified suicide bombings."
National Public Radio (NPR), officials at
Walter Reed Medical Center repeatedly expressed concern about
Hasan's behavior during the entire six years he was there; Hasan's
supervisors gave him poor evaluations and warned him that he was doing
substandard work. In the spring of 2008 (and on later occasions)
several key officials met to discuss what to do about Hasan. Attendees
of these meetings reportedly included the Walter Reed chief of
psychiatry, the chairman of the USUHS Psychiatry Department, two
assistant chairs of the USUHS Psychiatry Department (one of whom was
the director of Hasan's psychiatry fellowship), another psychiatrist,
and the director of the Walter Reed psychiatric residency program.
According to NPR, fellow students and faculty were strongly troubled
by Hasan's behavior, which they described as "disconnected," "aloof,"
"paranoid," "belligerent," and "schizoid."
Hasan has expressed admiration for the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki,
imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque between 2000 and 2002. As Al-Awkali
was under surveillance, Hasan was investigated by the FBI after
intelligence agencies intercepted 18 emails between them between
December 2008 and June 2009. In one, Hasan wrote: "I can't wait to
join you" in the afterlife. Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a military analyst
at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, suggested that Hasan was "either
offering himself up or [had] already crossed that line in his own mind."
Hasan also asked al-Awlaki when jihad is appropriate, and whether it
is permissible if innocents are killed in a suicide attack.
Army employees were informed of the contacts, but no threat was
perceived; the emails were judged to be consistent with mental health
research about Muslims in the armed services. A DC-based joint
terrorism task force operating under the FBI was notified, and the
information reviewed by one of its Defense Criminal Investigative
Service employees, who concluded there was not sufficient information
for a larger investigation. Despite two Defense Department
investigators on two joint task forces having looked into Hasan's
communications, higher-ups at the Department of Defense stated they
were not notified before the incident of such investigations.
In March 2010, Al-Awlaki alleged that the Obama administration
attempted to portray Hasan's actions as an individual act of violence
from an estranged individual, and that it attempted to suppress
information to cushion the reaction of the American public. He said:
Until this moment the administration is refusing to release
the e-mails exchanged between myself and Nidal. And after the
operation of our brother Umar Farouk the initial comments coming
from the administration were looking the same – another attempt at
covering up the truth. But Al Qaeda cut off Obama from deceiving
the world again by issuing their statement claiming responsibility
for the operation.
In July 2009 he was transferred from Washington's Walter Reed
Medical to Fort Hood. Hasan gave away furniture from his home on the
morning of the shooting, saying he was going to be deployed. He also
handed out copies of the Qur'an, along with his business cards which
listed a Maryland phone number and read "Behavioral Heatlh [sic]
– Mental Health – Life Skills | Nidal Hasan, MD, MPH | SoA(Subhanahu
wa ta'ala) | Psychiatrist". According to investigators, the acronym "SoA"
is commonly used on jihadist websites as an acronym for "Soldier of
Allah" or "Servant of Allah", and SWT is commonly used by Muslims to
mean "subhanahu wa ta'ala" (Glory to God). The cards did not
reflect his military rank-
Immediately after the shooting, analysts and public officials
openly debated Hasan's motive and preceding psychological state: A
Selena Coppa, remarked that Hasan's psychiatrist colleagues "failed
to notice how deeply disturbed someone right in their midst was." A
spokesperson for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, one of the first
officials to comment on Hasan's background, told reporters that Hasan
was upset about his deployment to Afghanistan on November 28. Noel
Hamad, Hasan's aunt, said that the family was not aware he was being
sent to Afghanistan.
The Dallas Morning News reported on November 17 that ABC News,
citing anonymous sources, reported that investigators suspect that the
shootings were triggered by superiors' refusal to process Hasan’s
requests that some of his patients be prosecuted for war
crimes based on statements they made during psychiatric sessions
with him. Dallas attorney Patrick McLain, a former Marine, opined that
Hasan may have been legally justified in reporting what patients
disclosed, but that it was impossible to be sure without knowing
exactly what was said, while fellow psychiatrists complained to
superiors that Hasan's actions violated
Joe Lieberman called for a probe by the
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
which he chairs. Lieberman said "it's premature to reach conclusions
about what motivated Hasan ... I think it's very important to let the
Army and the FBI go forward with this investigation before we reach
any conclusions." Two weeks later, Lieberman labeled the shooting "the
most destructive terrorist attack on America since
September 11, 2001."
Michael Welner, M.D., a leading
forensic psychiatrist with experience examining mass shooters,
said that the shooting had elements common to both ideological and
workplace mass shootings. Welner, who believed the motivation was to
create a "spectacle", said that a trauma care worker, even one
afflicted with stress, would not be expected to be homicidal toward
his patients unless his ideology trumped his Hippocratic oath–and this
was borne out in his shouting "Allahu Akhbar" as he killed the
unarmed. An analyst of terror investigations, Carl Tobias, opined that
the attack did not fit the profile of terrorism, and was more
reminiscent of the
Virginia Tech massacre.
Michael Scheuer, the retired former head of the
Bin Laden Issue Station, and former U.S. Attorney General
Michael Mukasey have called the event a terrorist attack, as has
Walid Phares. Retired General
Barry McCaffrey said on
Anderson Cooper 360° that "it's starting to appear as if this
was a domestic terrorist attack on fellow soldiers by a major in the
Army who we educated for six years while he was giving off these vibes
of disloyalty to his own force."
Some of Hasan's former colleagues have said he performed
substandard work and occasionally unnerved them by expressing fervent
Islamic views and deep opposition to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and
Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism wrote
that the case sits at the crossroads of crime, terrorism and mental
distress. He compared the possible role of religion to the beliefs of
Scott Roeder, a Christian who murdered Dr. George Tiller, who
practiced abortion. Such offenders "often self-radicalize from a
volatile mix of personal distress, psychological issues, and an
ideology that can be sculpted to justify and explain their anti-social
Hasan's family has called the shooting "despicable and deplorable."
They are currently working with Virginia law enforcement.
Hasan had shared his beliefs with associate Duane Reasoner Jr that
"you're not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or
others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims,
you will go to hell." Reasoner further refused to condemn the attack
as Hasan's brother, explaining "they were troops who were going to
Afghanistan and Iraq to kill Muslims. I honestly have no pity for them."
The U.S. President's initial response to the attack came during a
scheduled speech at the Tribal Nations Conference for America’s 564
federally recognized Native American tribes. Obama was criticized by
the media for being "insensitive", as he addressed the shooting only
three minutes into his prepared speech, and then for not according it
sufficient gravitas. Later, the President delivered the memorial
eulogy for the victims. Reaction to his memorial speech was largely
positive with some deeming it as one of his best.
Fort Hood personnel
Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander of III Corps at Fort Hood, said
on the day of the shooting that terrorism was not being ruled out, but
preliminary evidence did not suggest that the shooting was terrorism.
Retired Army colonel, Terry Lee, who had worked with Hasan said he had
indicated that he hoped Obama would withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and
Afghanistan, and had argued with military colleagues who supported the
A spokesman for the Defense Department called the shooting an "isolated
and tragic case",
and Defense Secretary
Robert Gates pledged that his department would do "everything in
its power to help the Fort Hood community get through these difficult
The chair of the
Senate Armed Services Committee,
Carl Levin, and numerous politicians, expressed condolences to the
victims and their families.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated "we object to—and
do not believe—that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this ...
This was an individual who does not, obviously, represent the Muslim
faith." Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. said "I'm concerned
that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of
our Muslim soldiers ... Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in
our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if
our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse."
In an open letter to President Obama, the Fort Hood Iraq Veterans
Against the War chapter in part demanded that the military radically
overhaul its mental health care system and halt the practice of
repeated deployment of the same troops.
President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Paul
Helmke, said that "This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army
base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the
solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more
places." However, Lt. General Cone stated: "As a matter of practice,
we do not carry weapons on Fort Hood. This is our home."
Military weapons are only used for training or by base security,
and personal weapons must be kept locked away by the provost marshal.
Specialist Jerry Richard, a soldier working at the Readiness Center,
expressed the opinion that this policy had left them unnecessarily
vulnerable to violent assaults: "Overseas you are ready for it. But
here you can't even defend yourself."
American Muslim groups
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the shooting;
Saudi cleric and former inspiration to Osama bin Laden, condemned
the shooting saying the incident would have bad consequences: "...undoubtedly
this man might have a psychological problem; he may be a psychiatrist
but he [also] might have had psychological distress, as he was being
commissioned to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and he was capable of
refusing to work whatever the consequences were." The senior analyst
at the NEFA Foundation described Ouda’s comments as "a good indication
of how far on a tangent Anwar al-Awlaki is."
Soon after the attack, Anwar al-Awlaki posted praise for Hasan for
the shooting on his website, and encouraged other Muslims serving in
the military to "follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal."
"Nidal Hasan is a hero, the fact that fighting against the U.S. army
is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. Nidal has killed soldiers
who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill
On April 6, 2010,
The New York Times reported that President Obama had
targeted killing of al-Awlaki.
Adam Yahiye Gadahn, the American-born al-Qaeda
spokesman, declared Hasan a "pioneer" whose actions at Fort Hood
should be followed by other Muslims.
Investigation and prosecution
The criminal investigation is being conducted jointly by the
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the
Texas Rangers Division. As a member of the military, Hasan is
subject to the jurisdiction of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice (military law). He is being
Belton, Texas-based John P. Galligan, a criminal defense attorney
and retired US Army Colonel. Hasan regained consciousness on November
9, but refused to talk to investigators. The investigative officer in
charge of his
article 32 hearing is Colonel
James L. Pohl, who had previously lead the
Abu Ghraib abuses, and is the Chief
Presiding Officer of the Guantanamo military commissions.
On November 9, the FBI said that investigators believed Hasan had
apparently acted alone. They disclosed that they had reviewed evidence
which included 2008 conversations with an individual that an official
identified as Anwar al-Awlaki, but said they did not find any evidence
that Hasan had direct help or outside orders in the shootings.
According to a November 11 press release, after preliminary
examination of Hasan’s computers and internet activity, they had found
no information to indicate he had any co-conspirators or was part of a
broader terrorist plot "at this point" of what they stressed were the
"early stages" of the review.
Though Hasan had frequented jihadist web sites promoting radical
Islamic views, they said no e-mail communications with outside
facilitators or known terrorists were found. Investigators were
evaluating reports that, in 2001, Hasan had attended a mosque in
Virginia once attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers and headed by
Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been accused of aiding the 9/11 plot.
Investigators were looking at potential inspiration, to determine if
al-Awlaki's teachings could have radicalized Hasan.
Army officials stated "Right now we're operating on the belief that
he acted alone and had no help". No motive for the shootings was
offered, but they believed Hasan had authored an Internet posting that
appeared to support suicide bombings. Sen. Lieberman opined that Hasan
was clearly under personal stress and may have turned to Islamic
extremism. Unofficially, Rep. John Carter remarked "When he shouted 'Allahu
Akbar,' he gave a clear indication that his faith or Muslim view of
the world had something to do with it."
In pressing charges on Hasan, the Department of
Defense and the DoJ agreed that Hasan would be prosecuted in a
military court, which observers noted was consistent with
investigators concluding he had acted alone. During a November 21
hearing in Hasan's hospital room, a magistrate ruled that there was
probable cause that Hasan committed the November 5 shooting, and
ordered that he be held in pre-trial confinement after he is released
from hospital care. On November 12 and December 2, respectively, Hasan
was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of
attempted murder by the Army; he may face additional charges at court-martial.
A 14th count of murder for the death of the unborn
child of Francheska Velez has not been filed. Such charge is available
to prosecutors under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and Article
119a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If civilian prosecutors
indict him for being part of a terrorist plot, it could justify moving
all or part of his case into federal criminal courts under U.S. anti-terrorism
The military justice system rarely carries out
capital punishment—and no executions have been carried out since 1961,
although, no incidents involving mass murder have been prosecuted by
the military since then. (From 1916 to 1961, the U.S. Army executed
135 people.) A Rasmussen national survey found that 65% of Americans
favored the death penalty in Hasan's case, and that 60% want the case
investigated as an act of terrorism.
The FBI noted that Hasan had first been brought to
their attention in December 2008 by a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
Communications between Hasan and al-Awlaki, and other similar
communications, were reviewed and considered to be consistent with
Hasan's research on radical beliefs at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
"Because the content of the communications was explainable by his
research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded
that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist
planning." However, both the FBI and the Department of Defense plan to
review if this assessment was handled correctly.
FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed William
Webster, a former director of the FBI, to conduct an independent FBI
review of the bureau's handling of possible warning signs from Hasan.
The review is expected to be long-term and in-depth, with Webster
selected for the job due to being, as Mueller put it, "uniquely
qualified" for such a review.
On January 15, 2010, the Department of Defense
released the findings of the departmental investigation, which found
that the Department was unprepared to defend against internal threats.
Secretary Robert Gates said that previous incidents had not drawn
enough attention to workplace violence and "self-radicalization"
within the military. He also suggested that some officials may be held
responsible for not drawing attention to Hasan prior to the shooting.
The Department report did not touch upon Hasan's motivations,
including his multiple contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki, and his yelling
"Allahu Akhbar" as he began the attack.
James Corum, a retired Army Reserve Lieutenant
Colonel and Dean at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia, called the
Defense Department report "a travesty", for failing to mention Hasan's
devotion to Islam and his radicalization prior to the attack. Texas
Representative John Carter was also critical of the report, saying he
felt the government was "afraid to be accused of profiling somebody".
John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 Commission and Secretary of the Navy
under Ronald Reagan, said he felt that the report "shows you how
deeply entrenched the values of political correctness have become."
Similarly, columnist Debra Saunders of the San
Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Even ... if the report's purpose was
to craft lessons to prevent future attacks, how could they leave out
radical Islam?" The leaders of the investigation, former Secretary of
the Army Togo West and retired Admiral Vernon Clark, responded to
criticism by saying their "concern is with actions and effects, not
necessarily with motivations", and that they did not want to conflict
with the criminal investigation on Hasan that was under way.
In February 2010 the Boston Globe obtained a
confidential internal report detailing results of the Army's
investigation. According to the Globe, the report concluded officers
within the Army were aware of Hasan's tendencies toward radical Islam
since 2005, and adduced one incident in 2007 in which Hasan gave a
classroom presentation titled "Is the War on Terrorism a War on Islam:
An Islamic Perspective". The instructor interrupted Hasan's
presentation as it appeared he was justifying terrorism, according to
the Globe. Despite receiving complaints about this presentation, and
other statements suggestive of his conflicted loyalties, Hasan's
superior officers took no action, believing Hasan's comments were
protected under the First Amendment and that having a Muslim
psychiatrist contributed to diversity. However, the investigation
noted Hasan's statements might have been grounds for removing him from
service as the First Amendment did not apply to soldiers the same way
as for civilians.
Reports on Terrorism
On Sept 10, 2010, the Bipartisan Policy Center
released the report "Assessing the Terrorist Threat" which concluded
that "in 2009 at least 43 American citizens or residents aligned with
Sunni militant groups or their ideology were charged or convicted of
terrorism crimes in the U.S. or elsewhere, the highest number in any
year since 9/11". They included Fort Hood and the 2009 Little Rock
recruiting office shooting as the two successful terrorist attacks,
even though neither case has been prosecuted as such.