Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was born in Arlington, Vir., in 1970 to parents of Palestinian descent. He graduated from Virginia Tech University in 1992 with an engineering degree. In 1995 he began active duty service with the U.S. Army.
Hasan, 42, entered medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 1997 and graduated in 2003. He had his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 2003 to 2006 in the center's psychiatry program.
According to a senate report on domestic terrorism, outward signs of religious radicalism began to manifest in his performance and interactions with colleagues during his residency, despite uniformly positive performance reviews. In his third year of residency, a superior urged Hasan to resign his commission. A captain at the time, Hasan also explored seeking conscientious objector status in 2006.
His reported Islamic extremism came into plain view as he concluded his residency. In a study he authored in 2008, Hasan suggested that revenge might be a motive for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and presented extremist interpretations of the Quran indicating a support for harming non-Muslims. Despite criticism for a lack of scientific merit, Hasan was allowed to graduate the program.
He entered post-residency fellowship at USUHS from 2006 to 2008, which he later confided to a colleague that he only applied for the position to avoid deployment to a Muslim country. The lone applicant, the university accepted him.
Classmates there reported Hasan used nearly every available opportunity to espouse beliefs that continued to teeter towards radical fundamentalist Islam. In August 2007, he gave a presentation titled "Is the War on Terror a War on Islam: An Islamic Perspective?" theorizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan targeted Muslims and gave a hypothetical defense of Osama bin Laden. At this point, several classmates later said Hasan began to make statements supporting radical Islam and suggested that similar views could lead to murder within the ranks. Over the course of the following months, he dedicated study to two more projects revolving around the study of radical Islam.
Despite being in the bottom 25 percent in both his residency at Walter Reed and the fellowship at USUHS, Hasan received glowing performance reviews and was recommended for promotion to major. He deployed to Fort Hood in late 2008 and was promoted in May 2009. His superior then gave him orders to deploy to Afghanistan in the fall of 2009.
Hasan has admitted to the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting that left 12 soldiers and one civilian dead in numerous forums. From statements to court documents, Hasan has said he carried out the mass shooting with a motivation consistent with the senate report relating to Hasan entitled "A Ticking Time Bomb." He has since made his opposition to the war in Afghanistan apparent, calling it an illegal war. His views may have led him to choose the location of the shooting spree that he allegedly committed at a Fort Hood installation where soldiers undergo routine redeployment procedures.
On the day of the shooting, many heard Hasan shout "Allahu Akbar" before opening fire, according to past testimony. Then shooting lasted several minutes and ended when Fort Hood civilian police shot the major four times. His wounds left him paralyzed from the chest down. He retained Belton defense attorney John Galligan, a retired colonel with the Judge Advocate General's office, shortly after the shooting.
Since april 2010, Hasan has been held in custody at Bell County Jail in an infirmary cell. In November 2010, after weeks of testimony in a pretrial court hearing similar analogous to a grand jury investigation, the Army preferred 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, one charge for each person killed or wounded during the attack. The Army later authorized the death penalty as a possible sentenced for his alleged crimes. He fired his civilian attorney prior to his arraignment.
Hasan's views on the shooting shifted after the shooting. He told a court in 2013 that fellow Muslims contacted him, telling the major he had broken his military oath and gone against Islam when he opened fire on post. It led Hasan to pursue pleading guilty to all charges. He submitted paperwork to indicating his intentions. However, military justice rules disallow soldiers from pleading guilty to capital charges if the death penalty is a possible sentence.
In the spring of 2012, Hasan told the court he had developed a keen belief that his death was imminent. His decision was driven in part by the increasingly visible signs of security surrounding the Fort Hood courtroom where his trial will take place. In order to die as a dutiful Muslim, Hasan said he decided to grow a beard. His decision bristled the presiding judge, Col. Gregory Gross. Gross ordered Hasan to shave and repeatedly held the major in contempt of court for disobeying his orders and defying military regulations on soldiers' appearance.
The dust up over his beard delayed the original August 2012 start date to Hasan's trial and ultimately led to the dismissal of the judge in December 2012. A new judge was immediately detailed to the case, and hearings resumed in 2013.
Hasan's views on the shooting appeared to revert back to the radical Isamic beliefs he reportedly held prior to shooting as his new trial date approached. In May, he fired his government-appointed attorneys and told the judge he was now pursuing a defense strategy that would justify the shooting rampage as a pre-emptive attack on the enemies of Islam. He told the court he was defending the Taliban in Afghanistan, specifically its spiritual leader Mullah Omar.