Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan said twice this week that he waged the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre to defend "others" from his fellow soldiers. Those others, he said during a hearing Tuesday, were "The leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban."
Hasan plans to represent himself during his pending murder trial in military court, using a defense that says he acted in "defense of others." Despite his own statement, and detailed records showing he communicated with American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki before the attack, the government considers the attack a form of "workplace violence" rather than terrorism.
The attack killed 13 people and wounded 30 more. Because of the "workplace violence" designation, victims will not receive Purple Hearts and survivors have not received combat benefits. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has sponsored an amendment to an appropriations bill to change that. Hasan, meanwhile, remains in the Army pending his trial. He has received $278,000 in pay since the Fort Hood attack.
In addition to being denied benefits, survivors may now have to face Hasan if they are called to testify at his trial. "It's definitely going to make (testifying) a lot more difficult," retired Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning told the Washington Times. "And it makes me sick to my stomach that he'd even (use that defense)."
In addition to his Awlaki connections, witnesses say Hasan shouted "Allahu Akhbar" as he opened fire. Others said he made no secret of his radical Islamic beliefs during his time in service. He justified suicide bombings, had "SOA," or "Soldier of Allah," on his business cards and gave a presentation called, "Why the War on Terror is a War on Islam."
None of that has been enough for the government to classify his shooting rampage as a terrorist attack. His new claim that he acted to defend leaders of a terrorist organization likely won't be enough, either.