— FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood targeted fellow soldiers in a meticulously planned attack that included stockpiling bullets and researching Taliban leaders calling for jihad, a military prosecutor said Tuesday during the opening day of the long-awaited trial.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan spent time at a shooting range and purchased a pistol and extender kit to hold more ammunition before carrying out his plan to "kill as many soldiers as he could" while avoiding civilians, Col. Steve Henricks told jurors. The shooting, which killed 13 people and injured more than 30 others on the sprawling Texas military base, remains the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation.
Henricks alleged that Hasan didn't want to deploy after getting his orders about three weeks before the shootings, and that "he came to believe he had a jihad duty to murder to his fellow soldiers." The American-born Muslim later told a doctor at the base that, "'They've got another thing coming if they think they are going to deploy me,'" Henricks said.
But when it came time for him to speak, the 42-year-old Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — countered prosecutors' detailed portrait of the attack with a simple statement: "The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter."
In writings and in previous court statements, Hasan indicated he wanted to argue that he carried out the shooting to defend the Taliban from American attacks — but the judge denied that strategy. During his 2-minute opening statement Tuesday, he touched on his religion, saying: "We are imperfect Muslims trying to establish the perfect religion. ... I apologize for any mistakes I made in this endeavor."
His statements highlighted the complexity of the military's case. Hasan wanted to plead guilty to several counts of murder and attempted murder, but military rules prevent guilty pleas in death-penalty cases. Prosecutors are pursuing a death sentence, which are often overturned in military courts.