for Deadly Jihad Attack
FORT HOOD, Texas
– A military jury on Wednesday sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, delivering the only punishment the Army believed fit for an attack on fellow unarmed soldiers. The sentence was one that Hasan also appeared to seek in a self-proclaimed effort to become a martyr.
The American-born Muslim, who has said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression, never denied killing 13 people at the Texas military base. In opening statements, he acknowledged that evidence would show he was the shooter and described himself as a soldier who had “switched sides.”
The same jurors who convicted Hasan last week had just two options on Wednesday: either agree unanimously that Hasan should die or watch the 42-year-old get an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
“What Nidal Hasan wanted was to be a martyr and so many of the (victims’) families had spoken to the issue of not giving him what he wants because this is his own personal holy war,” said Kathy Platoni, an Army reservist who still struggles with images of Capt. John Gaffaney bleeding to death at her feet.
“But on the other hand, this is from the bottom of my heart, he doesn’t deserve to live,” she said. “I don’t know how long it takes for a death sentence to be carried out, but the world will be a better place without him.”
Hasan had no visible reaction when the verdict was read, staring first at the jury forewoman and then at the judge. Some victims’ relatives were in the courtroom but also showed no reaction, which the judge had warned against before the verdict.
Officials said Hasan will be taken back to a county jail and then transported on the first available military flight to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. The timing on the flight wasn’t immediately clear.
Hasan could become the first American soldier executed in more than half a century. But because the military justice system requires a lengthy appeals process, years or even decades could pass before he is put to death.
In his final plea for a rare military death sentence, the lead prosecutor assured jurors earlier Wednesday that Hasan would “never be a martyr” despite his attempt to tie the attack to religion.
“He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,” Col. Mike Mulligan said. “This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”