Military base shooter: I did it

2013-08-06 22:20
Nidal Hasan

Nidal Hasan (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Texas - A US Army psychiatrist admitted on Tuesday to opening fire on fellow soldiers at the Fort Hood military base, as he took charge of his own defence at a high profile trial.

"The evidence will clearly show I am the shooter," declared Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who has fired his lawyers and is representing himself, in his opening statement.

Hasan, who has previously admitted to killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, faces the death penalty if convicted.

Military law prohibits him from pleading guilty to a capital offense and so Hasan has been given the opportunity to try to convince a jury of 13 officers that he does not deserve death for his actions.

"It could be the opening salvo for him to talk about jihad and to tell the jury he is justified in what he did," said Jeff Addicott, a terrorism law expert from St Mary's University.

The attack jolted the US military and prompted calls for stronger safeguards against internal security threats and "homegrown" terror attacks.

Readying for cross-examination

Nearly four years after being attacked in what should have been the safety of a protected base, survivors are steeling themselves to be cross-examined by Hasan, the man who shot them.

Military judge Colonel Tara Osborn will try to ensure Hasan does not use the high-profile trial as a platform to espouse extreme views and that he treats witnesses with respect.

Shawn Manning, a mental health specialist in the same unit as Hasan who was shot six times, said he was dreading the prospect of being cross-examined by his former colleague.

"A guy who tried to murder you and your friends, and you have to be cordial and nice, it is going to be difficult," Manning told AFP as he prepared to testify later in the week.

"In a lot of ways, I hope he doesn't ask me any questions, but I've prepared myself."

Manning is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit urging the military to reclassify the shooting as "terrorism" instead of the current designation of "workplace violence", which offers less compensation to victims.

Osborn has barred prosecutors from mentioning terrorism as a motive and prohibited Hasan from using a "defence of others" strategy to justify his actions.

'Illegal' war

Hasan, 42, was due to deploy to Afghanistan weeks after the attack. He has said that he shot soldiers to protect his fellow Muslims from an "illegal" war.

Three weeks before the shooting, according to prosecutors, Hasan told a doctor: "They have another thing coming if they think they are going to deploy me."

As he prepared to kill as many soldiers as possible, Hasan read jihadist writings by Taliban leaders and wrapped ammunition magazines in paper towels so people wouldn't hear them clinking in his pockets, prosecutors said.

Born in the eastern US state of Virginia to Palestinian parents, Hasan joined the army in 1995.

It was during a residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre from 2003 to 2006 that Hasan first exhibited signs of radical Islamic views, according to an FBI report entitled "A Ticking Time Bomb".

Hasan attended a mosque where radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki - a key figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula until his death in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen - worked in 2001.

He exchanged emails with Awlaki in the months leading up to the shooting in which he questioned the morality of killing soldiers if they intended to attack Muslims. Awlaki later called Hasan a hero.

Hasan has managed to delay the trial with various legal manoeuvres and a lengthy battle over whether he could violate military rules by wearing a beard.

Osborn has estimated the trial could last anywhere between one and four months.

More than 250 witnesses are set to testify against Hasan, including family members of each of the 13 killed in the shooting and the 32 soldiers and civilians who were wounded.

Hasan has said he only intends to call two witnesses in his defence.

Read more on:    anwar al-awlaki  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.