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 24.com network.

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.


Military base shooter: I did it

07 August 2013, 08:11

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 News24’s Comments Policy

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

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Former Assistant Minister joins J...

A former Assistant Minister has quit PNU and joined the Jubilee Party. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...