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Entries in Fort Hood (17)

Wednesday
Mar202013

Fort Hood Shooter Not Allowed to Plead Guilty

Photo by U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Image(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused in the deadly 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage, will not be allowed to plead guilty, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

Maj. Hasan's attorneys had previously indicated that he would plead guilty to 13 counts of premeditated murder in the case of the deadliest shooting on a U.S. military base. However, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice does not allow the court to accept a guilty plea on capital charges.

Col. Tara Osborn, the presiding judge, also denied the requests made by Hasan's lawyers to move the court martial away from Fort Hood.

Osborn also heard arguments pertaining to an expert witness in the case and said that a decision as to what extent he may testify will be made at a later date.

Hasan had been encouraged to commit an act of jihad by al Qeada-linked radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who was later killed in a drone strike. Co-workers of Hasan reported to their superiors his increasing Islamic extremism, but no action was taken against him before his rampage.

The next hearing in the case is set for April 16.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec042012

Accused Fort Hood Shooter Can Keep Beard for Now

U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- Defense lawyers for accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan won a dual victory on Monday when an appellate court kicked the presiding judge off the case and ruled that the suspect can keep the beard that Col. Gregory Gross demanded Hasan shave off multiple times.

Hasan, the Army major accused of gunning down 13 people and wounding 32 others at the Texas Army post in 2009, insisted his beard was protected by freedom of religious expression since he is a Muslim.

Gross disagreed with that argument, saying Hasan violated military code by keeping his facial hair and held him in contempt of court, ordering that it be forcibly shaved.

The prosecution was also concerned that the beard would make it more difficult for witnesses to recognize Hasan since he was clean shaven at the time he allegedly went on the shooting spree.

However, an appeals court ruled that military command, not a military judge, has the last word on grooming standards and determined that Gross could no longer appear unbiased during the trial, which has yet to start.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct212012

Fort Hood Victims Demand Attack Be Deemed 'Terrorism'

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Survivors of the Fort Hood massacre released a new video this week calling on the government to classify the November 2009 shooting as a terrorist attack rather than "workplace violence," a change that would make them eligible for specific combat-related benefits.

In the video, uploaded on YouTube Wednesday, witnesses to the shooting, some of whom were wounded in the attack, voiced their frustration with the government's labeling of the attack in which 13 people died and 32 others were wounded in a shooting rampage allegedly carried out by a fellow soldier, Maj. Nidal Hasan. The FBI said Hasan had corresponded with a high-profile al Qaeda recruiter and discussed the merits of jihad months before the massacre.

"Looking at the red tape you've got to get through, we put the video together to try to raise awareness," one of the victims, Army Staff Sgt. Alonza Lunsford, told ABC News.

In the video, police officer Kimberly Munley, who was shot multiple times, says, "It was discovered, has been discovered, re-discovered that this was part of a terrorist activity."

"[The Fort Hood victims] were killed and wounded by a domestic enemy -- somebody who was there that day to kill soldiers, to prevent them from deploying," another victim, Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning says in the video. Manning was shot in the chest. "If that's not an act of war or an act of terrorism, I don't know what is."

The Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes, the organization that released the video, said in a statement that unless the government labels the attack terrorism, victims and their families will be "denied the recognition and benefits they are rightfully due," in particular eligibility for the Purple Heart Medal, along with which comes veterans' medical benefits and higher priority for veterans' disability compensation.

But Army spokesman George Wright told ABC News that "the victims who were allegedly killed at Fort Hood in November 2009 did not meet the criteria of the award of the Purple Heart as outlined in the Department of Defense Manual of Military Decorations and Awards."

The manual states that the Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are killed or wounded "in action against an enemy of the United States; as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force; or as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States, provided the Secretary of the military department concerned recognizes the attack as an international terrorist attack."

As defined by U.S. law, a terrorist act must be "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents," and for it to be an international terrorist act, it must involve "citizens or the territory of more than one country." All of those killed and a majority of those wounded in the attack were either active duty or reserve military personnel.

Some of the victims in this week's video point to Hasan's online correspondence with American-born radical cleric and major al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki, who at the time was based in Yemen, as a reason the Fort Hood shooting should be treated as a terrorist attack. Before his death by drone strike in September 2011, some government officials considered al-Awlaki the greatest individual threat to America.

As ABC News reported in the weeks following the attack, Hasan exchanged at least 18 e-mail messages with al-Awlaki within a six month period between December 2008 and June 2009, in which he asked al-Awlaki questions including when jihad is appropriate and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack.

ABC News also reported that U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months before the Fort Hood shooting that Hasan was attempting to make contact with Awlaki, a fact that Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes, said should have raised red flags. The emails were monitored by the FBI, but at the time the bureau "did not assess this guy as a terrorism threat," according to a lengthy FBI review of the case.

The references to "workplace violence" in the video apparently refer to Department of Defense memos in which officials recommend the Department take steps to address workplace violence in response to the 2009 attack. In the Defense Department's final review of recommendations issued by an independent panel following the attack, published in August 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates highlighted workplace violence as an area in which the Defense Department would "strengthen its policies, programs and procedures."

Various official reports on the attack refer to it as a "shooting," "murder," and the result of "extremism," but not terrorism. In President Obama's lengthy remarks at a memorial for the dead days after the attack, he never uttered the words "terror" or "terrorism."

Last week, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying they found it "inconceivable" that the Defense Department "continue[s] to label this attack 'workplace violence' in spite of all the evidence that clearly proves the Fort Hood shooting was an act of terror," and also asked that all those killed and wounded in the attack be given Purple Hearts.

Nidal Hasan stands accused of murdering 13 people in the attack on Fort Hood and will face a military trial. After a short controversy, last week the court ruled that Hasan must shave his beard before appearing for court martial to face the murder charges, in consistency with Army uniform rules. Hasan had said he grew it for religious reasons and forcing him to shave would violate the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep072012

Judge Orders Alleged Fort Hood Shooter's Beard Shaved Off

U.S. Government Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences via Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- The murder trial of Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused in the 2009 shooting deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, could be delayed for months after a judge ruled Thursday that military officials must forcibly shave off the defendant's beard.

Col. Gregory Gross, who is presiding over the case, says that Hasan is in contempt for keeping the beard, which violates military regulations.

Hasan maintains that the beard is meant to show his devotion to his Muslim faith.

Up to now, Gross has fined Hasan and made him watch the court proceedings from another room via closed-circuit TV.  However, the judge decided on Thursday to implement regulations that allow for a service member to be forcibly shaved.

Prosecutors argued successfully that the military was not in violation of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that protects religious observance from government interference.

They accused Hasan of growing the beard to make it more difficult for witnesses to identify him as the alleged gunman who left 13 dead and 32 wounded during a shooting spree in which Hasan was also shot, paralyzing him from the chest down.

Hasan's lawyers will appeal the judge's decision that could delay the trial for weeks or possibly months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Ft. Hood Bomb Plotter Sentenced to Life in Prison 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) -- The young serviceman convicted of plotting a massacre of his fellow soldiers near Fort Hood in Texas received dual consecutive life sentences today.

Naser Jason Abdo, 22, sat in a Texas court today in a bizarre mask made of white cloth around his mouth and a black mesh covering over his hair and face, a Department of Justice official told ABC News. The life sentences were handed down for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and for possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime. Abdo got another 60 years for the attempted murder of "officers or employees of the United States," among other charges.

Abdo, a private first class, was convicted of planning to attack a restaurant full of soldiers near Fort Hood. He had gone AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky after his approved status as a conscientious objector was put on hold while he was investigated for allegedly possessing child pornography.

He was arrested on July 21, 2011 at a Killeen hotel after arousing the suspicions of the staff of a local gun store when he tried to purchase smokeless gunpowder and shotgun and pistol ammunition. A handgun, bomb-making materials and an article from the Al Qaeda magazine "Inspire" called "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" were found in his room.

Two days after his arrest, Abdo shouted "Nidal Hasan -- Fort Hood 2009," an apparent reference to the 2009 Fort Hood massacre in which Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, allegedly shot and killed 13 servicemen. Abdo had been previously accused of spitting blood, which he believed to be HIV positive, on his guards. He was convicted in May of several charges relating to the plot.

"Today's sentencing of Mr. Abdo is a conclusion to an investigation which defines what we hope to do every time, that is to prevent an act of terrorism before it occurs," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez in a release from the Department of Justice.

Nidal Hasan, the man who allegedly inspired Abdo's plot, was himself in military court Thursday where he was held in contempt for refusing to shave his beard per military standards.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Accused Fort Hood Shooter Kicked Out of Court for Not Shaving Beard

Hemera/Thinkstock(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- The Army major accused in the deadliest shooting on a military post in U.S. history finds himself in a hairy situation.

Nidal Hasan, charged in the murder of 13 people at Ford Hood, Texas, in November 2009, is refusing to cut off his beard, which he claims he grew for religious reasons.

Since Hasan is still a member of the Army, rules dictate that officers and soldiers cannot wear facial hair and therefore, military judge Col. Gregory Gross kicked him out of a pretrial hearing on Tuesday.

Hasan, who was paralyzed during the shooting that also wounded 32 others, was wheeled out of the courtroom and set up in a trailer where he watched the proceedings on closed circuit TV.

Meanwhile, a camera inside the trailer allowed those in the courtroom to watch Hasan, who is able to answer questions directed to him or his attorneys.

Tuesday was the second time that the judge has told Hasan to shave his beard and groom his hair.  He had previously shown up at pre-trial hearings clean-shaven.

Explaining what was going on to the judge, defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe said Hasan's beard is a "deeply sincere" expression of his Islamic faith.  Hasan has told his lawyers of a premonition that he will die soon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul292011

Fort Hood Suspect Yells Nidal Hasan's Name in Court

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(WACO, Texas) -- When Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, accused of  planning a deadly bombing and shooting attack on soldiers at Fort Hood, made his first appearance in court in Waco, Texas, Friday, he yelled the name of accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan.

Hasan is facing the death penalty for allegedly killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 in an assault on Fort Hood in November 2009.

Like Hasan, Abdo may have taken some of his inspiration from Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Islamic cleric who is among the leaders of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). One senior U.S. official told ABC News that after Abdo was arrested at a Killeen, Texas hotel Wednesday, Abdo mentioned the name of al-Awlaki.

Nidal Hasan had exchanged emails with Awlaki, according to U.S. authorities. Al-Awlaki is believed to have inspired several other terror plots in the U.S. as well, including the bungled Christmas Day underwear bombing of Northwest flight 253.

According to senior law enforcement officials, when police searched Abdo's hotel room, in addition to firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials, they also found an article from a jihadi magazine produced by al-Awlaki's organization, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The officials told ABC News Abdo had apparently stashed in the room an article from the first issue of al Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine called "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

AQAP, a media-savvy affiliate of al Qaeda, has produced six issues of "Inspire" so far, each featuring praise for martyrs and instructional sections on firearms and explosives for the prospective terrorist.

Abdo was charged Friday with the federal crime of possession of a non-registered firearm in addition to previous charges of possession of child pornography and going AWOL from his unit. As he was being led from the courtroom, he yelled out, "Nidal Hasan!", "Fort Hood!", and "2009!".

Abdo, a Muslim soldier who was in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell more than 800 miles away in Kentucky, attempted to leave the military in 2010 after protesting the U.S.'s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In August 2010 he told ABC News he should not have to participate in what he called an "unjust war".

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Jul292011

Fort Hood Bomb Plot Suspect Arrested with Al Qaeda Magazine

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(KILLEEN, Texas) -- When police searched the hotel room of the AWOL American soldier accused of planning a deadly bombing and shooting spree outside Fort Hood, Texas, between the firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials, senior law enforcement officials said they also picked up a possible clue to the soldier's motivation -- an article from a jihadi magazine produced by al Qaeda.

The officials told ABC News Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo -- who had been granted conscientious objector status over his Muslim faith --  had apparently stashed in the room an article from the first issue of al Qaeda's Inspire magazine called "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

In addition to the magazine, one senior U.S. official told ABC News Abdo had also mentioned the name of one of the most high profile leaders of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), American-born Anwar al-Awlaki.

Abdo made his first appearance in court in Waco, Texas, on Friday where he was charged with the federal crime of possession of a non-registered firearm in addition to previous charges of possession of child pornography and going AWOL from his unit.

Al-Awlaki is considered by some U.S. security officials to be one of the most dangerous men in the world because of his ability to reach out through the Internet to so-called "lone wolf" jihadis who would attempt to carry out attacks on behalf of al Qaeda, but without any actual material support from the terror organization.  Al-Awlaki is believed to have inspired several terror plots in the U.S., from the deadly 2009 massacre at Fort Hood and the bungled Christmas Day airline bombing.

AQAP, a media-savvy affiliate of al Qaeda, has produced six issues of Inspire so far, each featuring praise for martyrs and instructional sections on firearms and explosives for the prospective terrorist.

Abdo, a Muslim soldier who's in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, attempted to leave the military in 2010 after protesting the U.S.'s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In August 2010, he told ABC News he should not have to participate in what he called an "unjust war".

"Any Muslim who knows his religion or maybe takes into account what his religion says can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the U.S. military," Abdo said then.

Days after the Army approved Pfc. Abdo's conscientious objector discharge, his release was put on hold and he was charged with having child pornography on his government-issued computer.  Military investigators had been looking at Abdo's computer files after he made "radical statements," law enforcement sources told ABC News.

After he was told he would face a court martial, Abdo went AWOL from Fort Campbell on July 4.  Though vocal in his protestations against the mission in the Middle East, Abdo did not make any public threats against the military.

But when he was discovered Wednesday, Abdo was apparently in the final planning stages of a deadly attack.  He was caught in part because a wary local gun store owner called police after Abdo visited the store to buy ammunition and gunpowder.  He was acting "suspicious," Guns Galore owner Greg Ebert told ABC News.

"There was clearly something wrong with him," Ebert said.  "We made a decision to call the police and fortunately it worked out."

After his arrest, Abdo admitted he planned to plant two bombs at a local restaurant frequented by Fort Hood soldiers and hoped to gun down any survivors of the dual blast, according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News.

According to the documents, military officials believe the incident "was likely isolated to the Fort Hood area and the suspect in custody, and that arrest of the suspect has mitigated any further threats related to this incident."

Abdo's former lawyer, James M. Branum, declined to comment for an ABC News report except to say on Thursday that he hasn't spoken with his client "in a long time."  Abdo now faces federal charges in connection with the alleged plot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Soldier Arrested Near Fort Hood with Bomb-Making Materials

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(KILLEEN, Texas) -- A U.S. serviceman is in custody after he allegedly admitted he was planning an attack on the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, the same base where 13 people were killed in a 2009 terror attack.

U.S. officials told ABC News an AWOL serviceman identified as Private First Class Nasser Abdo was arrested Wednesday attempting to make a purchase at Guns Galore in Killeen, Texas -- the same ammunition store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the weapons he allegedly used to murder 13 people and wound 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009.

Multiple senior law enforcement officials report that this appears to be a classic lone wolf case – although military investigators and the FBI continue to look at Nasser’s associations. Evidence so far is that he acted alone.

Pfc. Abdo made headlines in 2010 when he refused to deploy to Afghanistan and applied for conscientious objector status, saying his Muslim faith prohibited him from doing so. At the time, he told ABC News, "Any Muslim who knows his religion...can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the U.S. military." Abdo's request was granted earlier this year.

Sources say that when authorities searched his hotel they found firearms and enough materials to make at least two bombs, including 6 pounds of blackpowder and 18 pounds of sugar. They also found some jihadist literature in his backpack. He had also apparently purchased an Army uniform with Fort Hood patches from a local surplus store.

Local police were initially alerted to the suspect by the owners of Guns Galore who reported him as "suspicious."

After he was arrested, Abdo reportedly told law enforcement he was at the base to "get even," according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News.

A spokesperson for the Killeen Police Department, which has the suspect in custody, said Abdo was arrested for an outstanding warrant for child pornography and did not have information about the alleged plot against the base.

Officials believe an attack was imminent, targeting a location outside of Fort Hood where soldiers frequented. Nasser is described as angry about his court martial for child pornography and angry about the U.S. military role in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Trial Date Set for Accused Fort Hood Shooter

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(FORT HOOD, Texas) -- The court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist charged with the deadly November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, has been set to begin on March 5.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder for the shootings that left 13 dead and 32 others wounded.  The 40-year-old, who was wounded and partially paralyzed during the rampage, sat in a wheelchair Wednesday while he was arraigned and calmly told a military judge he understood the charges against him.

A military jury of 12 officers above Hasan’s rank will hear testimony in the case.  In order to obtain a conviction, two-thirds of the panel must agree he is guilty.  

Hasan faces the possibility of a death sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.  The same panel will decide his fate, but in the penalty phase of the trial, a unanimous vote is needed for the death sentence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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