FT. HOOD, Texas — Military prosecutors cannot present most of the evidence they had sought to show what motivated the accused Ft. Hood shooter, a judge ruled Monday.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 42, an American-born Muslim, faces a court-martial this week on 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder in connection with the shooting at this central Texas base on Nov. 5, 2009.
Prosecutors have spent the first nine days of the trial building their case against Hasan through testimony from more than 75 witnesses. If convicted, the Army psychiatrist could be sentenced to death by the military jury of 13 officers.
Hasan admitted to the shooting in his opening statements. In a letter to the Killeen Daily News published over the weekend, Hasan said he “was defending my religion” and that it was “not acceptable to have a foreign policy that tries to replace [Muslim Holy] law for a more secular form of government.”
He wrote, “Fledgling Islamic states like Afghanistan need help to better govern their people under” Muslim holy law, or sharia. He then added, in a line that echoed his opening statement, “We are imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion of All-Mighty God.”
Hasan is representing himself in this case, and has attempted to mount a “defense of others” legal strategy, arguing that he shot fellow soldiers preparing to deploy in an effort to protect Taliban leaders. So far, the military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, has rejected that defense, but in the latest letter, Hasan again offered an explanation of his actions. He also cited Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois law professor, as establishing that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “illegal and unconstitutional.”
Prosecutors have pushed the judge to admit evidence of Hasan’s motive and radicalization — that he searched the Internet for information about a holy war or jihad and made an academic presentation about Muslim soldiers conflicted about fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (at the time of the shooting, Hasan was facing imminent deployment to Afghanistan).
They wanted to present evidence that Hasan pursued conscientious objector status and a fellowship to avoid deploying; that he researched Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier convicted of murdering members of his own unit as they prepared to invade Iraq; and about an exchange of emails — they wouldn’t say with whom, but the FBI has said Hasan traded emails with radical Muslim cleric Anwar al Awlaki, whom he identified in his latest letter to the Killeen newspaper as “my teacher and mentor and friend.”
- Prosecutors turn to motive in trial of Ft. Hood gunman (foxnews.com)
- Fort Hood prosecutors want to argue Hasan’s motive (reporternews.com)
- Lawyer says Fort Hood gunman has death wish- EXCLUSIVE: Hasan considered attack at Ft. Benning (foxnews.com)
- Fort Hood prosecutors want to argue Hasan’s motive – STLtoday.com (stltoday.com)
- Fort Hood shooting trial: Prosecutors getting to motive in case (oregonlive.com)
- Prosecutors getting to motive in Fort Hood trial (yakimaherald.com)
- Fort Hood suspect kicked gun from officer’s hand (bostonherald.com)