Nidal Malik Hasan was sentenced to death by lethal injection on Wednesday for committing what is commonly known as the deadliest act of terrorism since 9/11 – a shooting spree that left 13 dead and 32 wounded. In a unanimous decision, a panel of 13 senior military officers deemed the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas massacre spree worthy of the death penalty. The jury spent a mere two hours in deliberation before delivering the undivided verdict. Had the finding not been unanimous, Hasan would have received a lifelong prison sentence rather than a death sentence.
Hasan reportedly appeared devoid of emotion upon hearing the decision, which surprised few given his passive behavior throughout the course of trial. Many have speculated his seemingly submissive disposition – combined with his refusal to present a proper defense – likely alleviated the panel's stress in contemplating such a harsh verdict.
Indeed, Hasan's behavior throughout the trial has bewildered many – he first insisted on self-representation and then declined to submit potentially key, sympathy-geared evidence, much to his military legal advisers' dismay. Whereas prosecutors zealously argued in favor of a death sentence during the 22-day court-martial – calling over 100 witnesses that included both victims of the shooting and relatives of the deceased – Hasan remained consistently reactionless throughout the emotional testimonies.
Many worry that Hasan's arguable complacency evidenced a desire to die a martyr for his cause. Shouting "Allahu akbar!" before opening fire, the American-born Palestinian gave many reasons to believe his motives were Islam-based. These theories were only bolstered in 2010 with the former Army psychiatrist told a sanity review board he would die a martyr if executed for waging what he considered a holy war to prevent soldiers from fighting in Afghanistan. However, the Army's lead prosecutor, Col. Michael Mulligan, offered in his closing argument the theory that Hasan was not and never will be a martyr. "Do not be fooled," Col. Mulligan pleaded with the jury, "He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. This is not his gift to God. It is his debt to society."
Although Hasan had continued to receive both pay and benefits while awaiting trial, he has now been dismissed from the Army and stripped of all benefits. Officials announced he would be transferred to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on the first available military flight.
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