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August 06, 2013

Prosecutor: Fort Hood Shooter Sought to Kill Many Soldiers

by VOA News

A U.S. military prosecutor said that the Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas wanted to "kill as many soldiers as he could."

The prosecutor, Colonel Steve Henricks, told a court-martial Tuesday that Major Nidal Hasan deliberately targeted other soldiers as he opened fire in a building where service personnel were preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan to fight in the U.S. war against the Taliban.

Henricks was speaking on the first day of what could be a lengthy court-martial. The prosecutor said that Hasan yelled "Allahu Akbar!" -- "God is great" in Arabic -- and then started firing "on unarmed, unsuspecting and defenseless soldiers."

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, is accused of firing more than 100 rounds in a seven-minute assault that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others. In a brief opening statement, he told a jury of 13 military officers that "the evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter." He told the judge in the case that he would call two witnesses in his defense.

The 42-year-old Hasan is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair after being shot by Army police as they sought to end the barrage of gunfire on November 5, 2009.

Hasan had wanted to argue that the shootings were justified as way to save the lives of Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, but the judge in June ruled that he could not use that defense because there was no imminent threat to them from the soldiers at Fort Hood. The judge has also barred him from making statements about his religious beliefs.

The psychiatrist is representing himself in the case and could end up questioning soldiers he shot. Hasan, the son of Palestinian parents, is charged with murder, and if convicted faces a possible death sentence.