On 5th November 2009 at an American military base at Fort Hood, Texas, a massacre took place. A lone American soldier lost his mind, they said, and started shooting unarmed, unsuspecting soldiers, hoping to kill as many as possible. Thirteen soldiers died and 32 others survived to tell the tale.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan was a US Army psychiatrist, 39 years old at the time. He is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and if found guilty, will face the death penalty. It was later discovered that he was in email communication with radical Yemen cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who helped radicalize him over several years. He was born in America to Palestinian parents.
Check-in outside court
Hasan is paralysed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair. He uses a catheter, wears adult nappies and has to take stretching breaks every 20 minutes. After firing his lawyers, he's representing himself and will get to cross-examine many of the survivors.
In his opening statement, he apoligsed for his actions and said "We are imperfect Muslims, trying to establish the perfect religion." He admits his guilt, saying that the evidence clearly shows he was the shooter.
It wasn't a spur of the moment manic frenzy as many believed at the time, Hasan had his attack all planned. He bought a gun and went to a target practice range and deliberately chose a situation where unarmed, unsuspecting soldiers would be. He chose a crowded Fort Hood medical building where deploying soldiers were waiting for check-ups and vaccinations. Hasan actually sat down among them with his head down, before he suddenly jumped onto a desk, shouted "Allahu akbar" and opened fire with two handguns, pausing only to reload.
Judge Col Tara Osborne will not allow Hasan to argue that he made the attack in "defence of others", ruling there was no evidence the soldiers posed any threat to the Taliban leadership. The judge also ruled that the US commitment to the war in Afghanistan was not up for debate and he will not be allowed to make speeches about his beliefs at any time during the trial, especially when cross-examining surviving soldiers due to give evidence.
But the society we have created for ourselves in the West has given him an "out". If found guilty and sentenced to death, Hasan will be eligible for numerous appeals and even if they are unsuccessful, it could be decades before his eventual execution.
Another nail in the coffin of Islam - the so-called religion of peace.