|“||...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.||”|
— Hasan, Jr.
BackgroundHasan was born in Arlington County, Virginia, on September 8, 1970. His parents were Palestinian civilians who immigrated to the U.S. from their hometown of al-Bireh. In Virginia, they became the owners of a convenience store and also ran two restaurants. He and his two younger brothers were raised in a Muslim household and helped their parents in running one of the family restaurants. Hasan attended Wakefield High School for his freshman year, but spent the remaining three years at William Fleming High School after the family moved to Roanoke in 1985. After graduating from high school in 1988, he joined the U.S. Army (against his parents' wishes) and served for eight years while attending a community college and later the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which he graduated from in 1995 with honors and a bachelor's degree in biochemistry. In 1998, his father died, followed by his mother three years later. Two years after, Hasan attended a medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, earning a medical degree. He also completed an internship and residency in psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (for which he received counseling and extra supervision), and, in addition, received a master's degree in public health in 2009. Initially wanting to become a doctor, Hasan then switched to psychiatry after fainting upon witnessing a childbirth. In May of the same year, Hasan was promoted to Major and subsequently transferred to Fort Hood two months later. Prior to the transfer, however, he received a poor performance evaluation.
In his adult life, Hasan was said to become more radicalized in Islamic ideology. During his senior year at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he allegedly created a slideshow presentation titled "The Quranic World View as It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military", in which he suggested the possibility of the U.S. Department of Defense to use American Muslim soldiers as "conscientious objectors" in order to decrease "adverse events"; the presentation wasn't well-received by viewers. After 2004, his demeanor was described as being more agitated, and he would get into arguments with other soldiers. Hasan was also reprimanded at least several times for trying to convert patients to Islam. On June 1st, 2009 (five months prior to the massacre), a shooting occurred at a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Two recruiters and Privates were shot by then-twenty-three-year-old Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, using an SKS semiautomatic carbine rifle, with one dying and the other being injured. Sometime after his arrest, Muhammad had claimed that he was a terrorist affiliated with the Islamist organization Al-Qaeda. After the shooting, Hasan was said to have begun making critical statements of the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Muslims should be encouraged to fight against the U.S. Because of his devotion to Islam, Hasan allegedly received religious persecution and harassment, up to the point where relatives testified that he tried seeking prosecution and even a discharge from the military in order to escape the persecution (although the relatives' statements were unconfirmed by military officials).Ever since his mother's death, Hasan had started attending mosques in Virginia and Maryland, including the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in the Falls Church, Virginia area. From January 2001 to 2002, Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim extremist and recruiter affiliated with al-Qaeda, was the Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah, being considered a moderate at the time; Hasan was said to deeply respect his teachings. In addition, Hasan attended the mosque at the same time as Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, two of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 (the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon as part of the 9/11 attacks), and he may have been associated with them. Since December 17, 2008, and until June 2009, Hasan sent at least eighteen email messages to Awlaki, although an investigation concluded that the communications were part of unrelated "authorized research" he was conducting. During later interviews following the massacre, Awlaki stated that he had no direct part in Hasan's motivations. He also revealed that Hasan had become a devout Muslim by the time the former was preaching at Dar Al-Hijrah. A business card belonging to Hasan would later be recovered by investigators and found to contain the acronyms SoA(SWT): SoA was commonly used in jihadist websites and stood for "Soldier of Allah", while SWT was commonly used by Muslims as an acronym for "subhanahu wa ta'ala". In addition, Hasan visited radical Islamist websites and held multiple email accounts connected to such websites.
Six months prior to the shooting, Hasan came to the attention of federal authorities after allegedly making threatening online posts and comparing a suicide bomber to a soldier who sacrifices himself for his colleagues after throwing his body onto a thrown grenade, although no investigation was opened. Days prior to the shooting, Hasan had sent emails to superiors expressing his concerns about the actions of some of the soldiers he was evaluating as a psychiatrist and also asking them how to handle their reports. On July 31, 2009, Hasan entered a Guns Galore gun store in Killeen, Texas, and asked for "the most technologically advanced weapon" that could also hold "the highest standard magazine capacity". Employees and customers recommended the FN Five-seven pistol, with a customer who owned such a weapon describing its operation in full detail to Hasan for an hour. Leaving to research the pistol, Hasan returned the next day to purchase it. He spent the following weeks purchasing extra magazines and hundreds of additional ammunition, and also test-firing the pistol at an outdoor shooting range located in nearby Florence. On the day prior to the shooting, Hasan began giving his belongings away to a neighbor and then had dinner with a friend he met at the mosque, telling him that he felt "he was supposed to quit", as the Quran dictated that Muslims weren't supposed to engage in alliances with people of Christian or Jewish faith and that to fight against Muslims as a Muslim meant going to Hell.
The Massacre and AftermathOn November 5, 2009, at approximately 1:34 p.m., Hasan entered his workplace, the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center, armed with the FN Five-seven and an older-model .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver. He sat at an empty table near the medical exam station and bowed his head for a few seconds before standing up, whipping out the FN Five-seven, shouted "Allāhu Akbar!", and opened fire in a fan-like motion as he walked down an area of chairs. Some witnesses believed that the gunfire was coming from an assault rifle. Civilian Michael Cahill and Captain John Gaffaney both tried to charge him with the intention of subduing him, but they were gunned down. After killing ten at or near the chair area, Hasan retraced his steps and then stopped at a back door, where he reloaded and then headed back towards a second medical exam station, ignoring several civilian nurses and instead fatally shooting three uniformed, unarmed soldiers. At one point, he allegedly approached a group of five civilians hiding under a desk and aimed his weapon at them, but turned away without firing. After minutes of shooting, Hasan left the building through the back door, where he shot and wounded Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Royal as he tried warning other soldiers about the shooting. He was then confronted by civilian police officer sergeants Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, who are forced to take cover when he fired at them. Munley then cornered Hasan at the other side of the center, but is wounded by him after exchanging gunfire. Following the sound of the gunfire, Todd spotted Hasan kicking Munley's pistol out of her reach; he shot and critically wounded him, handcuffing and disarming him afterwards.
Hasan was hospitalized at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for his gunshot wounds, which paralyzed him from the waist down. He refused to talk to investigators, and was eventually charged with thirteen counts of premeditated murder and thirty-two counts of attempted murder, being legible for the death penalty. The shooting was considered an act of workplace violence despite evidence of it being homegrown terrorism in order to allow prosecutors to easily seek a guilty verdict against Hasan under military justice; such consideration continues to receive widespread criticism. In January of 2011, he was judged sane for trial by a U.S. Army sanity board, and was formally arraigned six months later on July 20. For the remainder of 2011 and into 2012, he was ordered to shave his beard, which he refused to do so, and the judge ruled that he can be forcibly shaved. On September 6, 2012, Hasan offered twice to plead guilty to the shooting, but both offers were turned down due to Army rules prohibiting judges from accepting guilty pleas in capital cases. On December 4, in an occurrence described as rare in the Army judicial system, the judge presiding the case, Colonel Gregory Gross, was removed when the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces vacated six convictions of contempt in court previously charged to Hasan, and Colonel Tara Osborn was appointed as Gross's replacement. On June 3, 2013, Hasan was allowed to represent himself in trial, although his defense attorneys could still remain at standby. When the trial started on August 6, he admitted to being the gunman and stated that there was an amount of evidence that could prove it. This led to disagreements between him and his attorneys, which led the judge to suspend proceedings. Presumably as a response to his latest act, Hasan was convicted of all charges on August 23, being sentenced to death five days later. He is the sixth person in military history to be on death row.
As of September 2014, he currently remains on death row.
Modus OperandiHasan shot his victims with a laser-sighted FN Five-seven semiautomatic pistol, which is equipped to hold extended magazines containing 20 and 30 rounds, allowing him to fire a larger amount of bullets from the weapon for an extended period of time without reloading. He specifically targeted uniformed U.S. Army soldiers, but he also shot civilians when they tried to apprehend him. During the massacre, Hasan was also equipped with an older-model .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver, but never used it.
- The Fort Hood massacre isn't the first mass shooting to occur in Killeen, Texas. On October 16, 1991, George Hennard crashed his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria restaurant before opening fire with two semiautomatic pistols, killing 23 people and wounding an additional 20. He was then chased into a bathroom by a police officer, where he committed suicide. The massacre is currently the third-deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, and the deadliest shooting to not occur on a school campus.
- The massacre is also the first of two mass shootings to occur in Fort Hood. The second occurred on April 2, 2014, when 34-year-old Specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol at several locations on the base, including a motor pool building where he had been assigned to and also a medical brigade building. Three people were killed and another sixteen were injured before Lopez committed suicide upon being confronted by a military police officer. Coincidentally, Lopez purchased his weapon from the same gun store Hasan purchased his FN Five-seven pistol. Though a concrete motive for the shooting has yet to be established, terrorism was immediately ruled out.
- Interestingly enough, the university Hansan graduated from was also the site of the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho. Another interesting fact is that both shootings had thirty-two as a number of victims (Cho killed thirty-two people and Hasan injured thirty-two).
On Criminal Minds
Hasan was recently mentioned in Criminal Minds, specifically by Garcia (who had hesitantly referred to the shooting as "a[n] awful thing in Fort Hood") alongside Evan Spencer Ebel in "Final Shot" as examples of recent acts of "civil disobedience" in Texas.
- The New York Times timeline of Hasan's life to date
- TIME photo gallery detailing Hasan's life
- Standard-Examiner article on survivor Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning
- ↑ A phrase that is translated into "Glory to God"