By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD -- Lawyers sparred Thursday over whether testimony from a terrorism analyst who calls Maj. Nidal Hasan a "home-grown terrorist" should be allowed in trial.
The question was whether a report from Evan Kohlmann, a noted terrorism expert who heads a company that analyzes messages from groups like al-Qaida, can be used in the trial. It may be used as evidence to sentence Hasan to the death penalty if he is convicted.
Judge Col. Gregory Gross reserved ruling on the issue.
The accused Fort Hood shooter was on post again Thursday, though removed from the courtroom. Military judge Col. Gregory Gross held the Army psychiatrist in contempt of court for a third straight hearing, fining Hasan $1,000 again for not shaving.
Hasan's lawyers claim he has grown his beard for religious reasons. They have appealed to a high court to prevent Gross from having Hasan forcibly shaved, which the judge has indicated he would do before Hasan's trial is expected to begin.
Kohlmann testified via telephone Thursday. After going through his extensive experience with think tanks, government agencies and his own private company, Kohlmann shed some light on the state of extremist terrorism.
He noted that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, al-Qaida changed from a centralized terrorist organization to a more scattered movement. The organization could no longer train operatives at camps.
"It simply wasn't a practical strategy anymore," Kohlmann said.
Instead, the group began to cultivate "lone wolf" terrorists. Instead of encouraging people to leave their country and train alongside Osama bin Laden, they were told to learn everything they could from websites, and then attack.
Actions the group encouraged included starting a forest fire, crashing a car into a crowded restaurant and carrying out a shooting at a military base, Kohlmann said.
Hasan's defense attacked the methodology Kohlmann used to determine Hasan is a terrorist,
Maj. Joseph T. Marcee repeatedly asked if Kohlmann's six-prong approach to assessing home-grown terrorists had been formally peer reviewed. It had not.
The judge did grant a defense motion regarding how lawyers will interview potential jurors. Gross ruled that the defense and government can take turns in which side will question a juror first.
The discussion showed that selecting a 12-member panel for Hasan's court-martial may take weeks. Lead defense counsel Lt. Col. Kris R. Poppe said they expect to question three potential jurors a day.
A jury pool of about 70 commissioned officers from across the nation is expected to be brought to Fort Hood.
Gross said they should aim to go through 18 to 20 potential jurors a week.
The judge denied defense motions seeking a change in venue and a new jury pool. He did, however, grant a motion that will allow the defense to make an opening statement during sentencing, if one should occur.
Gross also opened up speculation for a possible delay in the start of the court-martial, which is expected to start Aug. 20. He reserved ruling on a defense request for a continuance.
Hasan's next pretrial hearing is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.