On November 5, 2009, an U.S. Army major, serving as a psychiatrist at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas, walked onto the Soldier Readiness Processing Center and opened fire on unarmed soldiers awaiting deployment to Afghanistan. Nidal Malik Hasan, now 42, is the alleged shooter in what has been dubbed as the “Fort Hood shooting.”
Here are the top 10 facts about Nidal Malik Hasan, the details of the shooting, and his ongoing trial — which began today.
1. Hasan Became Religious in 2001
Hasan is a practicing Muslim, who became religious in 2001. Over time Hasan became more radicalized. He was pen pals with Anwar al-Awlaki, a popular US-based Imam who was accused by the US Government of being a senior talent recruiter for al-Qaeda. Al-Awlaki was radicalized after being detained and imprisoned in Yemen. Hasan exchanged as many as 20 e-mails with him in the months prior to the shooting, but their contents did not include instructions for harming anyone. According to al-Awlaki, Hasan arrived at his own conclusions regarding the acceptability of violence in Islam.
2. Hasan Made A Presentation About the Koran and its Relation to the U.S. Military
According to a 2009 Washington Post article, Hasan made a presentation titled “The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military” during his senior year of residency at Walter Reed Medical Center. The presentation advises the Department of Defense that it “should allow Muslims [sic] Soldiers the option of being released as “Conscientious objectors” to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events.”
The presentation was not well received by attendees.
3. Hasan Allegedly Tried to Get a Military Discharge
Hasan also was “mortified by the idea” of being deployed overseas, based on his counseling of soldiers who had returned with post-traumatic stress disorder.
4. Hasan Purchased His Murder Weapon Four Months Before the Shooting
Hasan purchased his primary murder weapon, an FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol, a the local Guns Galore store on July 31, 2009, four months before the shooting. Army Spec. William Gilbert, a frequent customer at the store, testified that he was at the store that day.
“He gave me two specifications,” Gilbert explained. “He said he wanted the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest magazine capacity.”
Gilbert suggested the FN Five-seven pistol, since he had one himself. Hasan went home and came back the following day, purchasing the weapon, hundreds of rounds of ammo, and two laser sights.
Weeks before the attack, Hasan was seen at a shooting range practicing on silhouette targets up to 100 yards away.
5. Hasan Started Shooting At 1:34 p.m. on November 5, 2009
At 1:34 p.m. on November 5, 2009, Hasan walked onto the base and opened fire. After sitting down at a table for a few minutes with his head down, he got up and yelled “Allahu akbar” and opened fire on the soldiers around him. Multiple people made an attempt to disarm or deter him but were shot and killed before they could get close enough.
Hasan walked out of the building and was approached by a civilian, asking him about what was going on inside. He told the man not to worry about it. It has also been reported that Hasan told another civilian that he was carrying a paintball gun and that there was a training exercise going on inside.
After engaging in a shootout with a civilian police member and subsequently wounding and disarming her, Hasan continued shooting as fleeing soldiers. Civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd arrived and began shouting orders at Hasan. The shooter turned and fired without hesitation. They exchanged more shots, and then Todd took Hasan down with five bullets. Todd then kicked the pistol out of his hand and put handcuffs on him as Hasan passed out.
6. Hasan Was Paralyzed by a Bullet
Of the five bullets that Sergeant Mark Todd hit Hasan with, at least one of them hit his spine, making him a paraplegic. According to AP, Hasan is paralyzed from the waist down, and he requires 15-to-20-minute stretching breaks about every four hours. He has to lift himself off his wheelchair for about a minute every half hour to avoid developing sores.
7. Hasan Killed 13 People & Injured Over 30
8. Hasan Took Care to Shoot Soldiers, Not Civilians
Hasan made a noticable attempt not to shoot at civilians. Just before the shooting, Hasan told a civilian data clerk to tell her she was needed elsewhere in the building because a supervisor was looking for her. She thought it was odd but went anyway. Hasan also passed by a group of five civilians hiding under a desk, looked at them, and moved on.
One of the casualties was a civilian. He was one of the men who rushed Hasan when the shooting began, but he was killed before getting close enough to disarm the shooter.
9. Hasan’s Trial Just Started
Hasan’s trial started on Tuesday, August 6. He has decided to represent himself, so he will have the opportunity to question witnesses himself. The prosecution is preparing to present witnesses and victims from the shooting for the jury, to give first-hand accounts from that day. They also presented that Hasan picked November 9 specifically the carry out the attack, but left the details for later in the trial.
Hasan had previously attempted to plead guilty, but military law requires a not-guilty plea in cases warranting the death penalty.
10. Hasan Was Motivated To Save Lives In Afghanistan
Hasan addressed the court on August 6 saying that the evidence would “clearly show” he was the gunman during the Fort Hood shooting, but that it wouldn’t tell the whole story. He also claimed that his motive was to defend the lives of Taliban fighters overseas, which is a defense Hasan is attempting in court. Judge Col. Tara A. Osborn set another hearing for Wednesday afternoon to further discuss the “defense of others” issue.