U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Nasan, the man responsible for the Fort Hood, Texas massacre in 2009 that killed thirteen and wounded 32 others was sentenced to death on Wednesday. The Fort Hood massacre was the deadliest attack at a U.S. military base in the nation's history.
Hasan represented himself during the court martial, and cooperated with prosecutors in order to hasten his "martyrdom." The American born Muslim said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression, and never denied being the gunman.
Nidal Hasan is the first U.S. military soldier to be sentenced to death in half a century. The last death sentenced carried out was the hanging of John Arthur Bennett for a rape that occurred in 1956. Bennett's sentence was carried out five years later in 1961 at the Army base in Fort Leavenworth, where Hasan will now be transferred.
The United States military justice process is lengthy, with a required appeals process that could take several years or even decades before Hasan's sentence is carried out.
The historical significance of the Fort Hood massacre by a Army psychiatrist, an "insider" is far reaching. The United States Department of Homeland Security has struggled with labeling crimes as acts of terrorism. Prior to the creation of DHS in 2002, the terrorist attack by another American, Timothy McVeigh, the mastermind behind the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, was not viewed by most Americans as a terrorist, nor the Oklahoma City bombing as an act of terrorism.
During a House Homeland Security Committee in February, 2011, then Committee Chairman Peter King criticized the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano for the department's handling of the Fort Hood massacre. Rep. King stated that although the November 2009, Fort Hood shooting fit the definition of terrorism, it was not until 3 months later during a background briefing with reporters that hesitant officials first acknowledged the shooting rampage an act of terrorism.
In a post 9/11 world, the United States government counter-terrorism efforts both on American soil and worldwide has been to prosecute terrorists to the fullest extent of the law, subsequently sending a message to others that acts of terror will not be tolerated.