Fort Hood shooting


Fort Hood shooting
Fort Hood shooting

Killeen police SWAT team responds to the shooting

Location of the main cantonment of Fort Hood in Bell County
Location Fort Hood, Texas,
United States
Coordinates 31°8′33″N 97°47′47″W / 31.1425°N 97.79639°W / 31.1425; -97.79639
Date November 5, 2009
ca. 1:34 pm (CST)
Attack type Mass murder, Spree shooting
Weapon(s)
Death(s) 13[1]
Injured 30 (including shooter)[1]
Suspected perpetrator Major Nidal Malik Hasan

The Fort Hood shooting was a mass shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, the most populous U.S. military installation in the world, located just outside Killeen, Texas.[1] In the course of the shooting, a single gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.[1] It is the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base.[2]

The sole suspect is Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army Major serving as a psychiatrist. He was shot and taken into custody by Department of the Army Civilian Police officers,[3] and is now paralyzed from the chest down.[4] 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 at court-martial. If he is convicted, there is a chance he could be given the death penalty.[5][6]

Hasan is an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent. Internal Army reports indicate officers within the Army had discussed what they characterized as 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 Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot. The U.S. later classified Anwar al-Awlaki as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the UN considered Awlaki to be associated with al-Qaeda; Awlaki was killed by a U.S. predator drone missile attack in 2011.[7] However, one year after the Fort Hood shooting, questions still lingered as to whether the incident was caused by mental health issues, and government agencies still had not officially linked Hasan to any radical terrorist groups.[8]

Contents

Shootings

An FN Five-seven pistol similar to that used by the attacker.[9]

Preparations

According to pretrial testimony, Hasan entered the Guns Galore store in Killeen on July 31, 2009, and purchased the FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol that he was to use in the attack at Fort Hood.[10] According to Army Specialist William Gilbert, a regular customer at the store, Hasan entered the store and abruptly asked for "the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest magazine capacity."[10] Hasan was allegedly asked how he intended to use the weapon, but didn't give a straight answer, insisting that he simply wanted the most advanced handgun with the largest magazine capacity.[10] The three individuals conversing with Hasan—Gilbert, the store manager, and an employee—all agreed upon the FN Five-seven pistol.[11] Gilbert, who personally owned one of the pistols, spent nearly an hour describing it to Hasan, explaining that the gun was extremely lightweight and accurate, and telling him that the bullets it fires cause severe damage on impact.[12]

When the conversation ended, Hasan left the store, saying he needed to research the weapon.[12] He returned to purchase the gun the next day, and visited the store on a weekly basis to buy extra magazines, along with hundreds of rounds of 5.7×28mm SS192 and SS197SR ammunition.[11] In the weeks prior to the attack, Hasan visited an outdoor shooting range in Florence, where he allegedly became adept at hitting silhouette targets at distances of up to 100 yards.[10]

Soldier Readiness Processing Center shootings

Bystanders take cover as shots ring out from the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.
Map of Fort Hood, with a red dot marking the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.

At approximately 1:34 pm local time, Hasan entered his workplace, the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where personnel receive routine medical treatment immediately prior to and on return from deployment. He was armed with the FN Five-seven pistol, which he had fitted with two Lasermax laser sights: one red, and one green.[13][14] A .357 Magnum revolver was later found on Hasan's person, but it was not used to shoot any of the victims.[9][15]

According to eyewitnesses, Hasan had taken a seat at an empty table and bowed his head for several seconds when he suddenly stood up, shouted "Allahu Akbar!"[16][17] and opened fire.[18] Witnesses said Hasan initially "sprayed bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion" before taking aim at individual soldiers.[19] Eyewitness Sgt. Michael Davis said: "The rate of fire was pretty much constant shooting. When I initially heard it it sounded like an M16."[20]

A shooting victim being transported to a waiting ambulance

Army reserve Captain John Gaffaney attempted to stop Hasan by charging him, but was mortally wounded before he could reach him.[21] Civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill also tried to charge Hasan with a chair, but was shot and killed.[22] Army reserve Specialist Logan Burnette tried to stop Hasan by throwing a folding table at him, but he was shot in the left hip, fell down, and crawled to a nearby cubicle.[23]

According to testimony from witnesses, Hasan passed up several opportunities to shoot civilians, and instead focused on soldiers in uniform.[24] At one point, Hasan reportedly approached a group of five civilians hiding under a desk.[25] He looked at them, swept the dot of his pistol's laser sight over one of the men's faces, and then turned away without firing.[25]

Base civilian police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, who had rushed to the scene in her patrol car, encountered Hasan in the area outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.[26] Hasan fired at Munley, who exchanged shots with him using her 9mm M9 pistol. Munley's hand was hit by shrapnel when one of Hasan's bullets struck a nearby rain gutter, and then two bullets struck Munley: the first bullet hit her thigh, and the second hit her knee.[14][24] As she began to fall from the first bullet, the second bullet struck her femur, severely shattering it and knocking her to the ground.[14][24] Hasan then walked up to Munley and kicked her pistol out of reach.[27]

As the shooting continued outside, nurses and medics entered the building, secured the doors with a belt and rushed to help the wounded.[28] According to the responding nurses, the blood loss inside the building was so heavy they were unable to maintain balance, and had difficulty reaching the wounded to help them.[29] In the area outside the building, Hasan continued to shoot at fleeing soldiers, and civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd arrived and shouted commands at Hasan to surrender.[24] Todd said: "Then he turned and fired a couple of rounds at me. I didn't hear him say a word, he just turned and fired."[30] The two exchanged shots, and Hasan was felled by five shots from Todd,[3][31] who then kicked his pistol out of his hand and placed him in handcuffs as he fell unconscious.[32]

An investigator later testified that 146 spent shell casings were recovered inside the building.[27] Another 68 casings were collected outside, for a total of 214 rounds fired by the attacker and responding police officers.[27][33] A medic who treated Hasan said his pockets were full of pistol magazines.[34] When the shooting ended, he was still carrying 177 rounds of unfired ammunition in his pockets, contained in both 20- and 30-round magazines.[27] The incident, which lasted about 10 minutes,[35] 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.[36][37]

Initially, three soldiers were believed to have been involved in the shooting;[38] 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 were locked down by military police and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) until around 7 pm local time.[39] In addition, Texas Rangers, Texas DPS troopers,[40] deputies from the Bell County Sheriff's Office, and FBI agents from Austin and Waco were dispatched.[41] President Obama was briefed on the incident and later made a statement about the shooting.[42]

On November 5, 2010, one year later, 52 individuals received awards for their actions in the shooting.[43] The Soldier's Medal was awarded to 10 soldiers, one of which was Captain John Gaffaney, who died attempting to charge the shooter.[44] The Secretary of the Army Award for Valor was awarded to police officers Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, for the roles they played in stopping the shooter.[43] On May 23, 2011, the Army Award for Valor was also posthumously awarded to civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill, who died attempting to charge the shooter with a chair.[45]

Casualties

First responders prepare the wounded for transport in waiting ambulances outside Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center.
Transfer cases containing the remains of soldiers killed in the shooting being loaded aboard an aircraft for flight to Dover Air Force Base

There were 43 casualties in the shooting. Among the 13 killed were 12 soldiers (one of whom was pregnant) and one Army civilian employee. Thirty others, including the shooter, were wounded and required hospitalization.[42][46] 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 San Antonio ,Texas, where he was held under heavy guard.[4] Hasan was hit by at least four shots,[47] and is said to be quadriplegic.[4] He 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.[48] Seven more wounded victims were taken to Metroplex Adventist Hospital in Killeen.[48] Eight others received hospital treatment for shock.[46] Of those wounded at least 17 were service-members, and at least seven were civilians.[49] On November 20, it was announced that eight of the wounded service members will still deploy overseas.[50]

Fatalities

The 13 killed were:

Name Age Hometown Rank or occupation
Michael Grant Cahill[51] 62 Spokane, Washington Civilian Physician Assistant
Libardo Eduardo Caraveo[52] 52 Woodbridge, Virginia Major
Justin Michael DeCrow[53] 32 Plymouth, Indiana Staff Sergeant
John P. Gaffaney[54] 56 Serra Mesa, California Captain[55]
Frederick Greene[51] 29 Mountain City, Tennessee Specialist
Jason Dean Hunt[51] 22 Tipton, Oklahoma Specialist
Amy Sue Krueger[51] 29 Kiel, Wisconsin Staff Sergeant
Aaron Thomas Nemelka[51] 19 West Jordan, Utah Private First Class
Michael S. Pearson[56] 22 Bolingbrook, Illinois Private First Class
Russell Gilbert Seager[49] 51 Racine, Wisconsin Captain[57]
Francheska Velez ‡[58] 21 Chicago, Illinois Private First Class
Juanita L. Warman[49] 55 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Colonel[59]
Kham See Xiong[51] 23 Saint Paul, Minnesota Private First Class
‡ Francheska Velez was pregnant at the time of her death; the unborn child did not survive.[60]

Suspect

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, M.D., 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.[61] His cousin did not recall him ever expressing radical or anti-American views.[61] 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 Iraq.[62]

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.[63][64] A law enforcement official said that the FBI will probably look into whether Hasan associated with the hijackers.[65] 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.[66]

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.[67] According to Associated Press, Hasan's lecture also "justified suicide bombings."[68]

According to 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."[69]

Anwar al-Awlaki, Hasan's former imam, with whom Hasan communicated in the months prior to the shootings

Hasan has expressed admiration for the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque between 2000 and 2002.[70] As Al-Awlaki 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.[71]

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.[72] 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.[73] 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.[74]

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.[75]

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.[76][77] 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(SWT) | Psychiatrist".[76][77] 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).[78] The cards did not reflect his military rank.

Possible motivation

Nidal Malik Hasan

Immediately after the shooting, analysts and public officials openly debated Hasan's motive and preceding psychological state: A military activist, Selena Coppa, remarked that Hasan's psychiatrist colleagues "failed to notice how deeply disturbed someone right in their midst was."[30] A spokesperson for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, one of the first officials to comment on Hasan's background,[79] told reporters that Hasan was upset about his deployment to Afghanistan on November 28.[80][81] Noel Hamad, Hasan's aunt,[82] said that the family was not aware he was being sent to Afghanistan.[83]

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 doctor-patient confidentiality.[84]

Senator 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."[85][86] Two weeks later, Lieberman labeled the shooting "the most destructive terrorist attack on America since September 11, 2001."[87]

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.[88] 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.[88] 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.[89]

However, Michael Scheuer, the retired former head of the Bin Laden Issue Station, and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey[90] have called the event a terrorist attack,[89] as has terrorism expert Walid Phares.[91] 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."[92]

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 Afghanistan.[93]

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.[94] 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 leanings."[94]

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."[95]

Reaction

U.S. President Barack Obama at the memorial service for the victims of the shooting rampage

President Obama

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.[96][97][98] Later, the President delivered the memorial eulogy for the victims. Reaction to his memorial speech was largely positive, with some deeming it one of his best.[99][100] The speech was criticized by a Wall Street Journal reporter, who found the speech largely absent of emotion,[101] while a National Review columnist criticized Obama for refusing to acknowledge Islamic terrorism as having a role in the shooting.[100][102]

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.[103] 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 wars.[103]

Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. discussing the shooting at a press conference at Fort Hood.

U.S. government

A spokesman for the Defense Department called the shooting an "isolated and tragic case",[104] 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 times."[105] The chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, and numerous politicians, expressed condolences to the victims and their families.[42][105][106][107]

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."[108] 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."[109]

Veteran groups

Family members and troops attend a memorial service honoring the victims of the shooting spree

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.[110]

Gun control advocates

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."[111] However, Lt. General Cone stated: "As a matter of practice, we do not carry weapons on Fort Hood. This is our home."[112] Military weapons are only used for training or by base security, and personal weapons must be kept locked away by the provost marshal.[113] 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."[114]

American Muslim groups

The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the shooting;[115][116] Salman al-Ouda,[117] a dissident 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."[118]

Anwar al-Awlaki

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."[70] "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 Muslims."[119] On April 6, 2010, The New York Times reported that President Obama had authorized the targeted killing of al-Awlaki.[120] On September 30th, 2011, two Predator drones fired missiles at a vehicle with al-Awlaki aboard, killing him and Samir Khan.[121]

Hasan's family

Hasan's family has called the shooting "despicable and deplorable." They are currently[when?] working with Virginia law enforcement.[122]

Investigation and prosecution

The American flag at Fort Hood, Texas, resting at half-staff during a memorial ceremony honoring the victims of the shooting rampage.

The criminal investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Texas Rangers Division.[123] As a member of the military, Hasan is subject to the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (military law). He is being represented by Belton, Texas-based John P. Galligan, a criminal defense attorney and retired US Army Colonel.[124] Hasan regained consciousness on November 9, but refused to talk to investigators.[125] The investigative officer in charge of his article 32 hearing was Colonel James L. Pohl, who had previously led the investigation into the Abu Ghraib abuses, and is the Chief Presiding Officer of the Guantanamo military commissions.[126]

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.[127] 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.[123] 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.[128]

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.[129] 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."[129]

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.[130] 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.[108] 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.[5][6]

A 14th count of murder for the death of the unborn child of Francheska Velez has not been filed.[131] Such charge is available to prosecutors under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and Article 119a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.[132] 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 laws.[133][134] The military justice system rarely carries out capital punishment—and no executions have been carried out since 1961,[134][135] 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.)[136] 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.[137]

Hasan was formally arraigned on July 20, 2011.[138] He did not enter a plea, and the judge granted a request by Hasan's attorney's that a plea be entered at a later, unspecified, date. The judge set a trial date for Maj. Hasan's court martial for March 5, 2012.[139]

Internal investigations

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.[130]

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.[140]

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.[141] 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.[142]

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.[143] Texas Representative John Carter was also critical of the report, saying he felt the government was "afraid to be accused of profiling somebody".[144] 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."[142] 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?"[145] 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.[142]

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.[146]

Reports on terrorism

On September 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.[147]

Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed in November 2011 by victims and their family members alleges the government's failure to act against Hasan before the attack was willful negligence prompted by political correctness. Munley, a claimant and one of the police officers who helped bring down Hasan, stated "I brought this claim because I strongly believe this tragedy was totally preventable and that the Army swept under the rug what they knew about Hasan". The 83 claimants seek $750 million in compensation from the Army.[148]

See also

  • Naser Jason Abdo
  • 1995 William Kreutzer, Jr. case – convicted of killing an officer and wounding 17 other soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • 2003 Hasan Akbar case – convicted of murder of two officers at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait.
  • 2007 Fort Dix attack plot – six radical Islamist men convicted of plotting an attack on Fort Dix, New Jersey.
  • 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting – Islamist shooter of two recruiters had returned from Yemen; stated he shot soldiers on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
  • 2009 Camp Liberty killings – Sgt. John M. Russell charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault for attack at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
  • 2009 Lloyd R. Woodson case—Arrested with military-grade illegal weapons he intended to use in a violent crime, and a detailed map of the Fort Drum military installation
  • Department of the Army Civilian Police
  • List of massacres in Texas

References

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  38. ^ 12 dead, 31 hurt in Texas military base shootings – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
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  116. ^ the alternate spelling 'Awdah' is used in the source text
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