FORT HOOD, Texas — For the first time in nearly a year, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan will come face to face with dozens of people he's accused of attacking in last year's shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
An Article 32 hearing, which starts today in military court and is expected to last at least three weeks, will determine whether there is enough evidence to put the Army psychiatrist on trial. It will also be the first time witnesses have testified about the worst-ever shooting on a U.S. military base.
Hasan, 40, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. When the proceeding begins, he will be sitting just a few feet from the witnesses, who are expected to describe graphic details of the attack.
The shootings happened on a sunny autumn day at Fort Hood, one of the nation's largest Army posts. About 300 people were in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. As soldiers waited in various lines, a man suddenly jumped up on a desk, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great!" — and started firing two guns, witnesses said.
The soldiers and civilian workers were unarmed. The rampage lasted only about 10 minutes, until two Fort Hood police officers shot and wounded Hasan, who is now paralyzed.
After the rampage, a disturbing picture of Hasan began to emerge. The American-born Muslim was trying to get out of his pending deployment to Afghanistan because he opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He recently had been saying goodbye to friends and neighbors, and had given away his Koran and other belongings.
But there had been warning signs much earlier. Some fellow students in a graduate military medical program complained to the faculty about Hasan after he reportedly gave a presentation that justified suicide bombings and said the war on terror was a war against Islam.