TEXAS – The beard that has stalled the court-martial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan will be discussed at a hearing next week, military officials said.
The October 11 hearing at the Army Court of Criminal Appeals was called to address his continued refusal to shave before court appearances, the Army said.
The military psychiatrist is accused of opening fire three years ago at the Texas Army post’s processing center, where soldiers were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq. The attack left 13 dead and 32 people wounded. Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after police exchanged fire with him.
His court-martial tied to the shooting had been scheduled to start in August. But the Army Court of Criminal Appeals had delayed its start indefinitely to determine whether the suspect’s beard can be forcibly shaved during trial.
Army regulations prevent soldiers from wearing facial hair while in uniform. Hasan, who is still considered a soldier, is a practicing Muslim and maintains he has the right to wear the beard under U.S. laws protecting religious freedoms.
At an earlier hearing, Hasan spoke about his beard.
“Your honor, in the name of almighty Allah, I am a Muslim. I believe that my religion requires me to wear a beard,” he told a judge in August.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
A U.S.-born citizen of Palestinian descent, he was a licensed psychiatrist who joined the Army in 1997. He had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan before the killings in November 2009, but had been telling his family since 2001 that he wanted to get out of the military.
Hasan had told his family he had been taunted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Investigations tied to the Fort Hood shootings found he had been communicating via e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent radical Yemeni-American cleric killed by a U.S. drone attack in 2011.