Fort Hood Gunman Told His Superiors of Concerns

KILLEEN, Tex. — Days before he opened fire inside a medical processing building at Fort Hood here in 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sent two e-mails to his Army superiors expressing concern about the actions of some of the soldiers he was evaluating as a military psychiatrist.

In the e-mails, one sent 13 days before the attack and the second three days prior, Major Hasan asked his supervisors and Army legal advisers how to handle three cases that disturbed him. In one case, a soldier reported to him that American troops had poured 50 gallons of fuel into the Iraqi water supply as revenge; the second case involved another soldier who told him about a mercy killing of a severely injured insurgent by medics; and in the third, a soldier spoke of killing an Iraqi woman because he was following orders to shoot anything that approached a specific site.

 

The Army never fully investigated his concerns. On Nov. 5, 2009, Major Hasan walked into a medical deployment center to kill as many soldiers as he could as part of a jihad to protect Muslims and Taliban leaders from troops heading to Afghanistan, he has said.

In 2007, when Major Hasan was a resident in the psychiatric program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, the academic presentation he made that was required for graduation — known as his grand rounds presentation — stated that a risk of having American Muslims in the military was the possibility that they would murder their fellow troops.

 

He had also asked a supervisor at Walter Reed whether he qualified for conscientious objector status, told classmates during a fellowship that his religion took precedence over the Constitution, and in an academic paper defended Osama bin Laden.

 

Major Hasan’s radical beliefs and his correspondence with his Army superiors have played a limited role in his military trial, now in its third week at Fort Hood.

 

 

Military Jury Convicts Army Psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik, on All 45 Counts in Fort Hood Rampage

KILLEEN, Tex. — A military jury on Friday found Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan guilty of carrying out the largest mass murder at a military installation in American history.

The verdict, delivered by 13 senior Army officers, came 17 days after Major Hasan’s court-martial trial began on Aug. 6, and nearly four years after the day in November 2009 that he killed or wounded dozens of unarmed soldiers at a medical deployment center at Fort Hood here.

Hasan, a Virginia-born Muslim, said the attack was a jihad against U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of his few displays of emotion during the trial came when he bristled after Osborn suggested the shooting rampage could have been avoided were it not for a spontaneous flash of anger.

For months and even years before the attack, his views of Islam had turned extreme. In December 2008, 10 months before the shooting, he sent the first of 16 messages and e-mails to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric who encouraged several terrorist plots. He asked Mr. Awlaki whether Muslim American troops who killed other American soldiers in the name of Islam would be considered “fighting jihad and if they did die would you consider them shaheeds,” an Arabic term for martyrs.

Mr. Awlaki never replied to that message. But in 2010, in an interview with the mental health panel that evaluated him, Major Hasan appeared to answer his own question. He told the panel if he died by lethal injection, “I would still be a martyr.”

 

The jury of nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major deliberated for about six hours over two days before finding him guilty of 45 counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder, one count for each of the 13 people he killed and the 32 he wounded or shot at.

John Galligan, Hasan’s former lead attorney, said the jury did not hear all the facts because the judge refused to allow evidence that helped explain Hasan’s actions.

“Right or wrong, strong or weak, the facts are the facts,” he said. “The jury we heard from only got half the facts.”

 

He and prosecutors said his mission was to kill as many soldiers as he could as part of a jihad to protect “my Muslim brothers” from American soldiers deploying to Afghanistan. A year after the shooting, he told a military mental health panel that he wished he had died in the attack so he could have become a martyr. He expressed no remorse for his actions, only regret that he was paralyzed by police officers who shot him in ending the attack.

The start of the court-martial trial was delayed several times, largely because of Major Hasan’s efforts to keep the beard he had grown for religious reasons, in violation of Army rules. In contrast, Hasan Akbar, the Army sergeant who was sentenced to death in a grenade attack on his own camp in Kuwait in 2003, was convicted just two years after his attack. In Major Hasan’s case, three years and nine months have elapsed since the shooting.

His has also become one of the most expensive cases in military history, costing the government more than $5 million, including $8,000 a month to rent a trailer near the courthouse where Major Hasan, who acted as his own lawyer, could work on his case with access to a computer, printer and law books.

Judge Denies Ex-Defense Team’s Bid to Limit Role in Fort Hood Suspect’s Trial

KILLEEN, Tex. — The judge overseeing the military trial of the Army psychiatrist charged in a deadly shooting rampage at the Fort Hood base denied on Thursday his former lawyers’ request to limit their role in the case. The ruling came a day after the lawyers said they could no longer assist him because he was seeking the same goal as prosecutors — to be sentenced to death.

 

The psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, released his court-appointed Army defense lawyers so he could represent himself, a rare if not unprecedented move in a military capital-punishment case. His three former lawyers remain by his side in the courtroom as standby counsel.

 

After Major Hasan gave an opening statement on Tuesday and admitted being the gunman, his former lead Army lawyer asked the judge to cut back the lawyers’ involvement, saying that helping him achieve his goal of getting the death sentence violates their ethics as defense lawyers. They were not seeking to withdraw from the case, but to have their roles modified.

On Thursday, the judge said the dispute amounted to a disagreement over strategy between Major Hasan and his standby counsel. She said that he was competent to represent himself, and that the Constitution gives him the right to do so. The judge, Col. Tara A. Osborn, ordered the lawyers to continue to assist him.

 

Military law experts said the appeal — to be filed with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals — would not have a major impact on the trial. But the colonel has filed appeals in the case that have been upheld by military appellate courts, altering the trial’s course.

Judge Says Ft. Hood Shooting Suspect May Act as His Own Lawyer in Court

HOUSTON — The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., in 2009 will represent himself when his trial begins next month, the latest twist in a long-delayed case that is likely to raise numerous legal questions and could provide him with a stage to promote his radical Islamic beliefs, experts in military law said.

 

At a pretrial hearing at Fort Hood on Monday, the judge overseeing the court-martial of the psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, approved his request to release his court-appointed military lawyers and determined that he was physically and mentally capable of representing himself, Army officials said. Major Hasan was shot by the police at the time of the attack and is paralyzed below his chest.

 

Major Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

The complications arising from his decision to represent himself became apparent almost immediately. Not long after Colonel Osborn approved his request, Major Hasan made one of his first legal maneuvers, asking the judge for a three-month delay of the trial, which had been scheduled to begin July 1.

“Hasan is highly intelligent and has been using the trial process all along to advance his belief in radical Islam,” said Jeffrey F. Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. “Hasan does not care about doing a good job. He only cares about getting maximum press.”

It was unclear why Major Hasan released his Army legal team, and his objective in representing himself in a capital murder trial is unknown. He may cross-examine witnesses and even the shooting victims if they are called to testify for the prosecution, and there is also the possibility that he will interview prospective jurors when selection of the panel is scheduled to start on Wednesday.

Defendant Told to Shave

An Army appeals court has ruled that the defendant in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 can have his facial hair forcibly shaved off before his murder trial. The United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals’ opinion issued Thursday upheld the military trial judge’s decision to order Maj. Nidal Hasan to appear in court clean shaven or be forcibly shaved. Major Hasan has said the beard is an expression of his Muslim faith. His lawyers say he will appeal. Major Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted.

Fort Hood Shooting Trial Delayed Pending Ruling on Beard

HOUSTON — The Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in a 2009 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army base in Killeen, Tex., won a temporary delay of his trial on Wednesday, after a military appeals court halted the proceedings to allow it time to rule on whether the judge in his case can order him to be forcibly shaved.

The psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, grew a beard in recent months, an expression, his defense lawyers said, of his Muslim faith. Beards violate Army regulations, and Fort Hood’s chief circuit judge, Col. Gregory Gross, has forbidden Major Hasan to sit in the courtroom during several pretrial hearings at Fort Hood as a result.

Colonel Gross has allowed the major to watch via a closed-circuit television feed in a trailer near the courthouse.

The judge has repeatedly fined Major Hasan and held him in contempt over his beard, stating that his appearance was a disruption and that he would have him forcibly shaved unless he complied. But his lawyers asked the highest military appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, to prevent the shaving and issue a stay.

How the beard issue is handled has serious legal implications. If Major Hasan is allowed to keep the beard but watch the proceedings from outside the courthouse during his trial, he could appeal a conviction by arguing that his Sixth Amendment rights, which grant the accused the right to be “confronted with the witnesses against him,” were violated.

John P. Galligan, the lawyer whom Major Hasan released last year, said he was pleased by the appeals court’s order. “Finally somebody stepped in and said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ ” he said. “A forcible shave would be inappropriate and almost illegal in the context of this death penalty case.”

Army missed red flags surrounding Major Hasan

The army and officers at Walter Reed Hospital apparently missed warning signs of radicalization in Major Hasan, according to a military review concluded on Friday.

“It is clear that as a department, we have not done enough to adapt to the evolving domestic-internal security threat to American troops and military facilities that has emerged over the past decade. In this area, as in so many others, the department is burdened by 20th century processes and attitudes, mostly rooted in the Cold War,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the press.

The army has an idea of who missed what, and intends to take action against the individuals and hold them responsible for lapses in judgment on Hasan’s behavior.

Communication breakdowns in the FBI and Pentagon also led to a failure to act upon Major Hasan’s contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been implicated as a player in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s radicalization case as well.

Hasan’s mental state a central interest for attorneys in case

Defense attorneys are compiling evidence to claim insanity for Major Hasan. It must be collected before a psychiatric evaluation is completed.

The Army has created a sanity board to evaluate whether Hasan can mentally stand trial.

Legal experts say it could buy him out of the death penalty, but it wouldn’t hand attorneys a win over the case.

Legal standards for an insanity defense say a defendant cannot be held responsible for their actions if their mental state prevented them from seeing right from wrong. But experts agree it is always a hard sell.

Anwar al-Awlaki may face charges, Yemen runs educational counter-radicalization program

Yemeni cleric who allegedly was in contact with Major Hasan and Abdulmutallab has been targeted for arrest.

The cleric has had little trouble from law enforcement until now, despite his support of al-Qaida and attempts to spread the ideology in the Muslim world. Authorities’ failure to react to him and other Islamist radicals in Yemen highlight the conflicts of political Islam amongst Yemeni’s ruling class.

But the scrutiny of Yemen’s neglect of al-Awlaki ignores their counter-radicalization efforts which include a terrorist re-education program where clerics attempt to persuade jailed militants that Islam is not a violent ideology or religion. Hamoud Hitar, Islamic scholar, is leading the program. Until 2006, none of Yemen’s 420 radical militant prisoners committed armed violence against the state.