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Updated by Media Excerpts on Apr 07, 2020
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Issues - Islamic Extremism - Fort Hood 2009

[4/10/15] Fort Hood Shooting Victims Recognized as War Casualties

(NYT) -- In an about-face by the Army, the victims of the deadly 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, some of them still limping, took the stage on Friday and were recognized as casualties of war. "We hope today, in some small way, we will help to heal the wounds that you have suffered," the base commander, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland.

In all, 47 people were awarded a Purple Heart or its civilian counterpart, a Defense of Freedom Medal.

A 2013 Pentagon position paper warned that granting combatant status to the victims not only could “irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration” but might also “undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan,” who was awaiting trail on murder charges. By labeling him a terrorist, the paper warned, the Pentagon could erode his ability to get a fair trial and cause long delays in his prosecution.

[8/28/13] Nidal Hasan sentenced to death for Fort Hood shooting rampage

(WaPo) -- Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., the worst mass murder at a military installation in U.S. history.

Hasan, who was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan a few weeks later, shouted

Allahu ­akbar!

meaning “God is great,” before targeting soldiers with a high-powered, high-capacity handgun he had fitted with laser sights. He was apprehended by military police officers after firing more than 200 shots.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, had exchanged e-mails with a leading al-Qaeda figure in which he asked whether those attacking fellow soldiers were martyrs. The e-mails were seen by the FBI. Hasan also once gave a presentation to Army doctors discussing Islam and suicide bombers and said Muslims should be allowed to leave the armed forces as conscientious objectors to avoid “adverse events.”

(Daily Beast) -- On Friday a military jury convicted Major Nidal Hasan on more than 40 counts of murder and attempted murder for his 2009 attack that killed 13 and injured 32 Americans at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

Had the Army pursued a terrorism charge in another federal court, they would have effectively granted Hasan’s attempt to make that courtroom a much larger stage for his ideology and martyrdom—instead, the prosecution kept the trial focused and secured an easy conviction.

Secondly, acquiescence to the demand that Hasan be deemed an “enemy combatant” would have created far more legal confusion, making the prosecution’s case more difficult to prove.

Consider that if Hasan had been labeled as an “enemy combatant”, the next important legal determination would have to be whether he was protected with special privileges under the lex specialis principle of International Humanitarian Law—or whether he should have been treated instead as an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” under some form of military commissions derived from the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

No matter how emotionally satisfying it might be for us to condemn Hasan with words, a hard criminal conviction with a potential death sentence is much more important for effective counterterrorism—and a conviction that upholds the law is our nation’s first duty to the victims, survivors and families devastated by the attack.