Accused Fort Hood Shooter to Be Arraigned Wednesday

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas is being arraigned in a military court Wednesday.

A statement from the base says Major Nidal Hasan will be asked to enter a plea at the hearing, and that the judge could set a trial date.

The 40-year-old Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder for those killed in the November 2009 attack. He also is charged with 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the 32 people injured in the shooting.

Fort Hood's commander said earlier this month that Hasan would be tried in a military court and face the death penalty.

According to military law, Hasan must plead not guilty based on the nature of the case. Military law says suspects charged in death-penalty cases are not allowed to plead guilty.

U.S. officials have linked Hasan to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen. Witnesses say he shouted “God is great” in Arabic just before opening fire.

The incident has raised concerns about the threat of “homegrown” terrorist attacks.

Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police on the day of the rampage and remains in jail.

A U.S. Senate report released earlier this year said federal authorities could have prevented the Fort Hood massacre.

The year-long investigation found that although the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not have specific information about the attack, they collectively had enough information on Hasan to detect his radicalization to violent Islamist extremism.

The report said authorities knew that Hasan had contacts with a “suspected terrorist” and pointed out that an instructor and colleague referred to him as a “ticking time bomb.” But the report said both the Defense Department and the FBI failed to understand or act on what they knew.

A U.S. Defense Department investigation after the shooting said the Pentagon was not prepared for internal threats and recommended that the military officers who supervised the suspected gunman be held accountable.