Nidal Hasan guilty in Fort Hood massacre. Next question: life, or death?

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted Friday of all charges stemming from 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, which killed 13 and wounded 30. Hasan has said he wants a martyr's death. Starting Monday, jurors will begin considering that option.

Brigitte Woosley/AP
In this court room sketch, Judge Col. Tara Osborn, top, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, right, and defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, left, are shown, Wednesday, Aug. 21, in Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan got the verdict Friday he seemed to have already accepted: guilty on all counts in Fort Hood massacre.

US Army Maj. Nidal Hasan got the verdict Friday he seemed to have already accepted: guilty on all counts for his Nov. 5, 2009, attack at the US military base at Fort Hood.

But will the military jury at Hasan’s court-martial give him what he has said he desires – a martyr’s death?

An 11-man, two-woman jury spent six hours deliberating the case that the prosecution had laid before them: that Hasan, a US Army major whose parents were Palestinians, had transformed into a jihadist traitor, carrying out an attack on American soldiers about to depart for the Afghan and Iraq fronts. Jurors will consider his punishment starting Monday, when Hasan may for the first time publicly speak about his actions.

Lawyers for victims of Hasan’s attack immediately called upon the Obama administration “to accept responsibility for the harm done by its political correctness, spin, and cover-up” and amend its classification of Hasan’s attack as an act of “workplace violence.” That designation, they say, has denied their clients Purple Hearts and medical benefits.

While a guilty verdict seemed all but assured – Hasan himself said the evidence would prove he was the shooter – the question still hanging over the proceedings is whether his deadly assault on the base constitutes the first major terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11. President Obama has acknowledged only that Hasan was “inspired by larger notions of violent jihad.”

The immediate decision before the jury is whether to make Hasan the fourth person on military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., or whether to relegate him to life in military prison. Hasan told a psychiatric review board in 2010 that he believed that being executed by the Army would give him martyrdom status among Islamic jihadists.

Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terror Law in Texas, has said Hasan’s nondefense defense was either a clear attempt at martyrdom or a sly use of reverse psychology, based upon the premise that jurors may balk at giving him what he wants, thus sparing his life.

Hasan, serving as his own attorney, said few words through the short trial, barely raised objections, and seemed resigned to what became, ultimately, what some military law experts have called a “slow plea.”

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, had refused Hasan’s previous guilty plea, and had denied him use of a strategy known as “defense of others” – that is, the Taliban – because there was no evidence that any of the 13 soldiers he killed and 30 other he wounded would ever pose any personal threat to enemy combatants or Taliban leaders.

The few times Hasan did raise glimpses of a defense were during brief remarks that suggested that his actions were honorable and were aimed only at US soldiers, against whom he had “switched sides” and whom he now saw as a legitimate enemy.

The US military has not executed a service member since 1961.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Nidal Hasan guilty in Fort Hood massacre. Next question: life, or death?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today