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The United States of America has faced several terrorism related attacks and attempts of attack (Turley, 2009). This is mainly from the radical Muslims groups in the US. The Muslims groups oppose the country’s military operations in the Middle East countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the 2009 attack is the most serious since it was very fatal. It occurred at Fort Hood, which is considered to be the most populated army base in the United States. The location of the camp is in Killeen, Texas. The attack occurred on November 5, 2009. It was carried out by a US army major who opened fire at the camp. Nidal Malik Hassan was a 39 year old psychiatrist opened fire on his colleagues and killed thirteen, while forty three were injured.
Out of the thirteen killed, twelve were the US army soldiers and the other one was a civilian called McCann. Nidal had two guns, but he used only one to purport the killing. A police sergeant, Mark Todd, constrained Nikal Hassan by shooting him on the shoulder, and the handcuffing him after he had fallen down. Nikal Hassan had a Palestinian accent though he was an American citizen. . However, Nikal Hassan was shot and taken to the custody by the army civilian police officers. Today, he is paralyzed from the chest downwards. He is charged with thirteen counts of pre-mediated murders and thirty two counts of attempted murders. He is also charged under the uniform code of military justice, and if convicted, there is a possibility of getting a death penalty. Nikal Hassan also faces charges at the court martial. Nikal Hassan is an American Muslim of Palestinian descent.
Investigations show that Hassan had communication with Anwar Al- Alwaki, a Yemen based cleric through email. Anwar declared Hassan a hero after the shooting. He said that Islam had a duty to fight against the US army. However, the FBI terrorism task forces revealed that Hassan was not a threat prior to the shooting. The FBI reported that most of the information that Nikal Hassan and Anwar exchanged was questions on medical research. Later, the US army classified Anwar Al- Awlaki as a specially designed global terrorist. The UN also considered Anwar to be associated with Al-Qaeda and he was killed by the US predator drone missile attack in 2001.
According to pretrial testimony, Hassan went to guns galore on July 31, 2009 and requested for the most technologically advanced weapon in the market and with the largest magazine capacity. The store manager, Gilbert, asked him about the purpose of the weapon, but Nikal did not give a convincing answer taking FN Five- seven semi automatic pistol. However, the store manager explained the details of the weapon to Hassan. He described the weapon as light weight, accurate and that its bullets cause severe damage on impact. On the fateful day, Hassan entered his work place at around 1:34 pm of the local time. He attended the personnel normally. He was armed with the FN five- seven pistol fitted with two laser max laser lights. One light was red, while the other was green. He also had a smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver, though he did not use the revolver to purport the attack.
Eye witnesses said that Hassan sat at an empty table with his head facing down for several seconds. He then stood up and shouted: `Allah Akbar`. He opened fire initially spraying bullets in a fanlike motion. He then shot individual soldiers. Sergeant Michael Davis, an eye witness, said that the shooting was much constant and that it initially sounded like an M16. Hassan focused more on soldiers than the civilians. At one point he came across a group of five civilians who were hiding under a nearby desk and passed them without causing them any injury. However, several people tried to stop Hassan from causing fatal injuries, but most of them did not succeed. Captain John Gaffney, an army reserve, tried to charge Hassan, but was wounded before he got to him. Michael Cahill, a civilian and physician assistant, tried to charge Hassan with a chair, but was shot and killed.
Logan Burnett, an army reserve specialist, tried to charge Hassan with a folding table, but was shot. Sergeant Kimberly Munley, a base civilian police, rushed to the scene in her patrol car. She encountered Hassan outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Munley had a 9mm M9 pistol. They exchanged shots and Hassan shot a bullet, which hit the rains gutters. This made shrapnel hit Munley`s hand and also two bullets. One of the bullet struck her femur, shattered it, and she fell down unconscious. Hassan continued to shoot the fleeing soldiers. Mark Todd, a civilian police sergeant, arrived and shouted commands to Nikal Hassan who did not say a word to him, but continued to shoot the officers. Hassan fired at Todd and the two exchanged shots for a while. However, Todd overcame Nikal Hassan and fired five shots at him. Nikal Hassan fell down unconscious and Todd handcuffed him. Mark Todd kicked the pistol out of Nikal Hassan’s hands.
There were forty-three casualties in the shooting. Thirteen died, and out of the dead, one was a pregnant soldier. Hassan was taken to Scott and White Hospital, Trauma Center in the temple, and later to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio (Mayo & Center of Military History, 2009). Here, he was under heavy guard. However, though Hassan was the sole suspect of the attack, he had some connections with two hijackers, Nawaf Al Hazmi and Hani Hanjour. Hassan was also connected to Anwar Al Alwaki.
Gen Bob was the commander of the base by then. He said that the tragedy was terrible and stunning. After the tragedy, investigations were carried out to get the motive behind Hassan’s action. Selena Coppa, a military activist, said that Hassan`s psychiatrist colleagues should have noticed how disturbed he was. Kay Bailey Hutchison was a spokes person for the US Senate and was the first to comment on Hassan action. He said that Hassan was upset by his deployment to Afghanistan. The Dallas Morning News reported that investigators suspected that the shootings were triggered by the fact that the superiors refused to process Hassan’s request. Hassan had requested prosecution of some patients based on statements they made during psychiatric sessions.
Hassan’s fellow psychiatrist complained that his actions went against the doctor patient confidentiality. However, Dallas attorney, Patrick McLain, a former marine , said that Hassan was legally justified to report the patients behavior, but it is impossible to be sure and certain without knowing what was really said by the patients. Senator Joe Lieberman was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. He said that it was pre mature to judge the motive behind Hassan’s action, but after two weeks, he said that the shooting was more destructive than any other shooting that had happened to US.
The US president first responded to during a scheduled speech of the Tribal Nations Conference for Americans 564 Federally recognized Native American tribe. The president delivered the memorial eulogy for the victims, which was largely positive. A Wall Street Journal`s reporter criticized Obama for not acknowledging Islamic terrorism as having a role in the shooting. Robert Gates, a defense secretary, pledged that his department would do everything to help Fort Hood community get through the hard times. Politicians and the Chair of Senate Armed Service Committee expressed condolences to the affected families.
The Fort Hood Iraq Veterans sent an open letter to president Obama. They requested that the military should overhaul its mental health care systems, and stop the repeated deployment of the same troops. Paul Helmke, the president of the Brandy Campaign to prevent gun violence, said that this tragedy should convince Americans that arming more people was not the solution to gun violence (Stroh & Army War College, 2009). The council on American- Islamic Relations also did not support the shooting. However, Anwar praised Nidal Hassan for his action and urged the Muslims serving in the army to follow suit. He also posted the praises on his website. Robert W. Cone, commander of the corps at Fort Hood said that terrorism was not being wiped out, but the preliminary evidence did not suggest that the shooting was terrorism. Terry, a retired army colonel, said that he hoped that Obama could withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued several times with his colleagues who supported the war.
Michael Wilner, a leading forensic psychiatrist, had experience in examining mass shooters. He said that the shooting had elements common to both ideological and work place mass shootings. Wilner believed that Hassan had a motive to create a `spectacle`. He also said that a care worker, however much afflicted with stress, would not act as such towards his patients. This would only happen, if the care workers ideology trumped the Hippocratic Oath. Michael Sachener, Michael Muksay and Waud Phares described the attack as a terrorist event.