A martyr’s death for Nidal Malik Hasan?

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Bill Juneau

Twelve years ago,  Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan exploded in Islamic rage and killed 13 persons and wounded 32 others in a meeting room at Fort Hood in Texas.  Hasan was expressing his anger over his coming deployment to the Middle East as a combat physician.  The carnage qualified as the worst mass murder on an army base in United States history.

It took nearly four years to bring Hasan to trial and he was convicted after a court marshal and trial on August 13, 2013.   A  few weeks later,  he was sentenced to death for the premediated murders of 12 soldier and the attempted murders of his other victims. The jury, composed of 13 army officers, was unanimous in fixing the maximum punishment.

With pride, Hasan admitted his role as the shooter in a brief statement to the jury.  He declined representation by legal counsel and offered no defense, remorse or misgivings at the trial which went on for 22 days..   In other comments outside court, he said that he was protecting the Taliban against Americans and that his death, in accord with Islamic  doctrine, would allow him to achieve the status of “martyr” and to receive special rewards in the hereafter.

Nidal Malik Hasan

Tried in a military court marshal, his case called for “mandatory appeals” as set forth in the Code of Military Justice.  For the past eight years, reportedly, these appeals have been underway, somewhere and in some fashion  and at some level. It is all kind of mysterious, because simply put, there is no basis for any appeal since there are no arguable issues.  The defendant admits his culpability without reservation and and wishes the sentence of the court to be carried out.

Very likely, “mandatory appeals” became a part of the military justice code to protect against the possibility that a sentence was out of line or that the defendant was actually not guilty of any wrongdoing. It was never intended to delay the sentence of the court for years and possibly decades for no articulated reason and certainly not in the case of a confessed killer with a clear motive to kill and whose carnage was witnessed by scores.

“Mandatory Appeals” have been in motion for Dr. Hasan now for eight years.  Further delay is illogical and even absurd, and that, I believe,  is the opinion of many lawyers– and I am one.

Hasan was an army psychiatrist, trained as a physician at government expense. He was the American born son of Palestinian immigrants. During his many years as a soldier, his conduct and writings raised concerns as to his loyalty to the United States, as he maintained a steady correspondence with radical clerics in the Middle east. Nevertheless, FBI reviewers of his writings and statements, following complaints about his conduct, determined that he was not dangerous

On the morning of November 5, 2009, Major Hasan loaded his pistol and checked into a meeting with others soldiers and civilians anticipating deployment to the Middle East.

At the meeting Hasan drew his pistol and began firing bullets at unsuspecting soldiers while screaming “Allahu Akbar, “the Arabic phrase for “Allah is great.”  Other soldiers in the hall quickly responded with gunfire and in seconds  took down the 37-year old doctor with wounds which have rendered him a paraplegic.   Currently, he is on death row at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

At the close of his Court Marshal, Prosecutor Mike  Mulligan, an army colonel, told the jury of Hasan’s hate for Americans and his warped desire to become a “martyr” for Islam.

Hasan will “never be a martyr” asserted Mulligan. “He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer. This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”

Yes, America’s military justice system is careful.  Nevertheless, sufficient time has passed and further delay of the Hasan execution is unnecessary, unreasonable and illogical.  The order of the court is long over due and distressed families of his victims are asking for closure, and an end to Hasan.

Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the ‘Florida Bill‘ blog.

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