Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who is set to stand trial this summer on charges of massacring 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others at Ft. Hood, told a military judge today that he was 'fighting for the Taliban.'
Hasan told a military judge at Ft. Hood today that he was 'fighting for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Mullah Omar is their leader.'
Omar is the discredited one-eyed leader of the Afgahn Taliban, who was driven from leadership in Afghanistan by the U.S. invasion of that country in 2001, but is believed to still contol the terrorist group's activities.
1200 WOAI news has learned that Nidal Hasan will mount what is called a 'defense of others' justification defense at his court martial, claiming that he shot and killed 13 U.S. Army personnel at Ft. Hood in 2009 to prevent them from deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan and killing Muslims there.
"He will claim that these killings are justified," said Jeffrey Addicott, a former legal adviser to the Army Special Forces. "They are justified because he is defending Muslims from an immoral or illegal activity being done by the U.S. miltiary."
The selection of a panel of officers is still set to begin on Wednesday, even though Hasan asked for a three month delay in the proceedings, and a hearing on that request is set for today. It is believed the officers who will act as Hasan's jury will be from Ft. Sill Oklahoma, and will all be individuals who were not at Ft. Hood when Hasan opened fire in a soldier readiness room on November 5, 2009, killing 13 and wounding 32.
Hasan faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted, something he acknowledged in the courtroom.
The judge, Col Tara Osborn, also ordered two members of Hasan's military defense team to remain at the defense table, and after Hasan said he specifically did not want a third officer on his team, Osborn declared him to be 'stand by counsel' and ordered him to remain in the courtroom.
Addicott says Hasan, who said in the courtroom Monday that he spends hours every day in his jail cell reading the Koran, will try to make the claim that had he not stepped in, the military personnel would have deployed to the Middle East and killed Muslims.
Greg Rinckey, the managing partner of Tully Rinckey of Washington DC and a long time Army defense attorney, says the idea of Hasan standing up in a military courtroom and justifying violence against U.S. troops is a 'nightmare' for prosecutors, and he expects them to try to block the defense.
"The government will file a motion to try to limit that type of defense," Rinckey told 1200 WOAI news. "Also with the instructions the judge is going to give the panel, there will be quite a bit of back and forth between the government and Maj. Hasan of whether this will be a legitimate defense.
Addicott said the defense won't work.
"There has to be an imminent and immediate threat," Addicott said. "There is no immediate threat when the people you kill are here in the United States and they are not even trigger pullers, these were all support people. This will never work, and this reflects the view in his soul that he is not repentant about these murders, he doesn't not feel sorry that he committed them."
Addicott said Osborn will tell the jury that the defense is inappropriate, but he will be able to make this claim in his closing statement.
"By telling the judge ahead of time, he is telling us that he thinks he was justified in what he did, and he will try to send a signal to other jihadists that they too need to stand up and fight for radical extremism."
Addicott said all indications are that Hasan will follow in the footsteps of Zacharias Moussaoui, the alleged 'twentieth hijacker' in the 9/11 attacks, who stood trial in 2006, repeatedly accusing the judge and witnesses of being 'infidels' and frequently filed bizarre motions calling the judge the 'slave of Satan.'
"The judge will have to keep a very tight rein on this individual to make sure he follows the rules," Addicott said. "I expect the judge to keep him under control."