Accused Fort Hood shooter makes first statement in court
Recent jail photo of Maj. Nidal Hasan which has cost him thousands of dollars in contempt of court fines. (Bell Co. Sheriff's Office Photo)
August 30th, 2012
05:12 PM ET

Accused Fort Hood shooter makes first statement in court

By Jennifer Rizzo

The Army psychiatrist accused of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting told the military judge his Muslim faith requires him to wear a beard, marking the first time Maj. Nidal Hasan has made a statement in court, according to his lawyer.

"Your honor, in the name of almighty Allah, I am a Muslim," Hasan said. "I believe that my religion requires me to wear a beard."

Hasan made the statement after the presiding judge, Col. Gregory Gross, asked why he was still in contempt of court - in other words, why Hasan hadn't shaved his beard, which is against Army regulations.

"I am not trying to disrespect your authority as a military a judge. And I am not trying to disrupt the proceedings or the decorum of the court," he said. "When I stand before God I am individually responsible for my actions."

Gross has threatened to have Hasan forcibly shaved, previously citing the regulations and the right to ensure "that a military trial proceeds without a distracting and disruptive sideshow."

Hasan was found in contempt of court again Thursday, fined $1,000 and sent from the court to a trailer where Hasan watched the rest of the proceedings via closed circuit TV.

A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, September 6, to discuss whether Hasan's religious claims would prevent him from being shaved.

Hasan's court martial was scheduled to start last week at Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, where he is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32. The trial was delayed when Hasan's legal team petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to prevent Gross from ordering Hasan's facial hair shaved.

The Court of Appeals found that Hasan's petition was "premature" because Gross had not yet issued a definitive order. If an official order was given, the appeals court said, Hasan could file another petition.

The beard issue surfaced in June, when Hasan, who remains in the Army while awaiting trial, appeared at a hearing with the beard. Gross postponed that hearing, then found Hasan in contempt of court at a July hearing, fined him $1,000 and warned him he would be shaved by force unless he got rid of the beard.

Hasan had been expected to enter a plea during a previous hearing, but the proceedings were halted by the appellate court. Hasan has previously expressed interest in pleading guilty, but military regulations bar a judge from accepting a guilty plea in a capital case.

Hasan is accused of opening fire at the post's processing center, where soldiers were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq, in November 2009.

He faces a possible death sentence if convicted. He was paralyzed from the waist down in the shooting, when police officers exchanged fire with him.

Hasan, a U.S.-born citizen of Palestinian descent, was a licensed psychiatrist who joined the Army in 1997. He had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan before the killings, but had been telling his family since 2001 that he wanted to get out of the military.

He is a Muslim who had told his family he had been taunted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Investigations that followed the killings found he had been communicating via e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American radical cleric killed by a U.S. drone attack in 2011.

An FBI report in July found that a Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego that was investigating al-Awlaki passed two of the messages to another task force in the Washington area, where Hasan was living at the time. The report found those e-mails should have been given to the Pentagon, but the FBI saw no evidence of terrorist activities in his case, and believed the information in the e-mails was too sensitive to share. It noted that visiting extremist websites is not grounds for taking action.

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Filed under: Nidal Hasan • Security Brief
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  20. RustyHinges8

    Checking the Islam hairstyles-for-men in the Internet; they say it’s an obligation in Islam to grow beards, but they can be shaved off if “necessary”, such as for surgery or persecution, etc. But I think Maj. Hasan might be in a little more trouble. It seems that the prophet Muhammad ordered the Muslim men to shave their mustache and leave the rest of the beard to grow. It was also encouraged that men not trim their beards at all. So, the Major might think he’s fitting right in with the Muslims, but he might be committing all sorts of sins with his nice mustache and trimmed beard. Ooops.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • Mohamad Shahin

      You know what, Maj. Hassan I think has much bigger things to worry about than his beard. When he meets God, whether that be sooner or later, he has much bigger things to answer for. Things like the treacherous murder of innocent people. What the heck?! Are you working for or against this country, and if you didn't like the army, then who forced you to join it in the first place? After doing what he did and he is worrying about his beard? I truly question whether this man is himself mentally balanced. And it's people like him that make the rest of us 8 million American Muslims look bad. The nerve of this guy is just appalling to say the least.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  21. Furry

    Put him in the same cell with that Amish beard cutting dude !

    September 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  22. SEMPERFI1775

    Had he been enlisted they would have already had him clean shaven. He signed a contract with the Army and he is supposed to adhere to that obligation until he is no longer in the Army.

    September 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  23. johndcross1

    For all intent & purposes he is still in the army. Therefore, he must follow the rules of the army. Before the incident he was clean shaven & did not invoke his religion prohibits shaving. Now that he is on trial he is invoking his religious rights. Baloney! No way jose! You either follow or be shaved by force, no ifs or buts, idiot!

    September 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  24. Joe Mamma

    Why the ____ is this man still breathing?

    September 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  25. Skorpio

    An EQUIVALENT ISLAMIC punishment for this guy – if we were in any Islamic nation- is to force him to convert to Christianity including his relatives and then beheaded him.

    September 2, 2012 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • kipito

      Yes, wasn't it Christ who said we should imitate the most inhumane acts of our enemies? [sarcasm]

      Christ is love. Love one another, love your enemies as yourself.
      Christianity is never about revenge.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Mohamad Shahin

      If what your saying isn't ABSOLUTE BS, then please back up your claims with proof!

      September 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  26. James Johnson

    This man was a Captain commanding other men, A person may ask, who put this man in this position ....And is this the same "glorious system" telling him not to grow a beard, while he wants to simply plead guilty to murder that can bring Capital Punishment........... Let's get real and stop the theatrics...accept his murder plea and take him directly to the gallows or firing squad........ If not, you are making him a hero for all the terrorist who oppose the United States........ Much like our head General Dempsey says he wouldn't support Israel.......... And we wonder why America has lost so much respect around the world.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • Angie

      First, if he pleads guilty, it's in exchange for life in prison - not the death sentence. There are reasons why the judge isn't allowed to accept his plea.

      Second, he was a psychiatrist. Not sure where you're getting the 'commander of men' thing from but that would not have been his duty description while working. Did his rank afford him some level of responsibility over others of lesser rank? Certainly, was he a commander over them? Absolutely not.

      America has lost a great deal of respect around the world because people complain, cry, and moan about their government. Because our government doesn't crush those people, it's perceived as 'weak' in certain countries. Your freedom of speech is considered a weakness. So enjoy your chance to speak out of your fourth point of contact.

      September 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Reply
      • Breeze

        When he goes to court, put a bag over his head, sentence him to Leavenworth, put him in Gen. population. I'm sure he'll "slip in the shower."

        September 27, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  27. Abdullo

    I'm sure military would not mind him growing cubicle, a symbolic mini beard for people who go bald in Islamic faith.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
  28. reader10

    Put him in jail and give him a blanket made of pig skin and ham sandwich for lunch.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  29. Mohamad Shahin

    I'm Muslim. This guy just continues to leave me dumbfounded...extremism must not be equated with the real teachings of our religion. This guy has me straight-up speechless. I cannot believe the nerve of some people. If you don't like the US army then who the hell forced you to join?!

    August 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  30. Breeze

    He is Army PROPERTY, Give him a G.I. party!

    August 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  31. KWG1215

    Since when does the damn criminals tell the courts what to do. He is guilty of killing all those people, i say put a damn bullet in his head and let his so called Allah take care of him. We are wasting hard earned money on this piece of S#@t. There is enough evidence to convict him so be done with it. And his stupid ass lawyer needs to go with him...Very tired of all the BS. He did it so, put him in the electric chair. He is a F%#%ing Terrorist.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  32. jiri pinkas

    WHO CARES? LET HIM HAVE HIS BEARD AND SEND HIM TO LEVENWORTH FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. WHICH
    WILL BE SHORT WHEN THE INMATES GET THEIR HANDS ON THIS WACKO.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
    • MaMeMiMoMu

      A very short rest of his life.

      August 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Reply
    • :)

      Look................polack................you'll always be a foreigner here. Always.

      August 31, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
  33. curious

    Then why did he join the army knowing he could not have a beard.

    August 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Reply

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