KILLEEN, TX — For 10 horrific minutes on November 5, 2009, frontline warfare erupted on the grounds of the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood in Texas.
At 1:34 P.M., Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist, stormed the base’s Soldier Readiness Center with a 5.7-mm FN semi-automatic pistol, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and opened fire.
In the ensuing carnage, Hasan executed 12 unarmed troops who were either being deployed or returning from the field, along with a civilian medical assistant.
Fort Hood civilian police officer Sgt. Kimberly Munley reached the scene first and exchanged fire with Hasan. She took two shots to the leg. Another civilian cop, Sgt. Mark Todd, brought Hasan down with five shots, one of which left the killer paralyzed from the waist down.
Hasan shot more than 40 people in all, severely wounding 30, and leaving some victims permanently disabled.
As authorities rushed Hasan off the base, doctors and nurses rushed to attend to the injured. The caregivers said so much blood had poured onto the floor that they had trouble maintaining balance.
Eleven victims died at the scene, two more expired at a nearby hospital. The massacre ended only when Hasan needed to reload, allowing Sgt. Todd to get in his shots. The killer’s pockets were crammed with additional pistol magazines.
The previous July, Hasan had purchased his particularly potent firearm from Guns Galore, a nearby armament shop. He reportedly had asked for “the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest standard magazine capacity” — and that’s what he got.
Born in 1970 to Palestinian immigrants, Nidal Hasan grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech and, in 2003, successfully trained to be a psychiatrist at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
From there, Dr. Hasan treated returning soldiers for PTSD in D.C. at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
Hasan’s supervisors and coworkers at Walter Reed noted his worrisome behavior, which reportedly increased after his promotion to Major and transfer to Fort Hood. That series of decisions enabled the deadliest mass murder ever on U.S. military base.
Hasan, who was raised Muslim, had become more vociferously outspoken about his religious convictions. He visited and participated in extreme Islamist websites, and openly denounced U.S. military engagements in the Middle East — the very conflicts from which his patients were coming back.
According to NPR, during a meeting of Army psychiatric staffers:
“Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.
Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, ‘Excuse me, but I’m a Muslim, and I do not believe these things in the Koran,’ and then, ‘I don’t believe what you say the Koran says.’ And then Hasan didn’t say, ‘Well, I’m just giving you one point of view.’ He basically just stared the guy down.”
The FBI even investigated Hasan over his exchanging emails with Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic militant and terrorist.
Regardless, Hasan continued to be allowed to counsel veterans, reportedly breaking doctor-patient confidentiality agreements regularly to complain about “war crimes.”
To the outrage of many, the government proclaimed the Fort Hood massacre an incident of “workplace violence,” rather than terrorism — despite the fact that Hasan immediately said he targeted uniformed personnel because the United States was “at war with Islam” and, as a true believer, he felt no choice but to defend his faith.
In 2013, just before his trial, Hasan wrote to Fox News, declaring himself a “Soldier of Allah” and stating:
“I, Nidal Malik Hasan, am compelled to renounce any oaths of allegiances that require me to support/defend [any] man-made constitution (like the constitution of the United States) over the commandments mandated in Islam. In an American Democracy ‘we the people’ govern according to what ‘we the people’ think is right or wrong; even if it specifically goes against what All-Mighty God commands.”
Once in court, Hasan acted as his own counsel and admitted to the shootings. He offered no testimony, called no witnesses, and provided no closing argument.
On August 23, 2013, the jury convicted Hasan on 13 counts of murder and 42 counts of attempted murder. The judge sentenced him to death. Alas, he’s not dead yet.
On April 2, 2014, shockingly, another lethal spree shooting occurred at Fort Hood. This time the killer was Ivan A. Lopez-Lopez, a veteran of the war in Iraq who suffered severe anxiety over family and financial issues, in addition to being treated for depression and PTSD.
After higher-ups denied Lopez-Lopez a leave of absence on the terms he wanted, the Army Specialist opened fire with a Smith & Wesson M&P Pistol. Lopez-Lopez killed three and injured 12 others with gunshots before he, himself, got fatally shot.
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Main photo: Nidal Hasan [WikiPedia]