A self-professed jihadist who screams "alahu akbar" while murdering 13 people is actually not engaging in jihad.
So says a military judge in the trial of Nidal Hasan who attacked a gathering at Ford Hood in November of 2009, killing 13 soldiers and wounding 40.
Lawyers representing the family members of those killed and injured in the Ft. Hood shooting rampage were outraged today when an Army judge limited prosecutors from introducing evidence, including emails to a known Al Qaeda operative, that would establish accused shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan's "jihadi" motives.
The judge's rulings could inhibit the ability of the victims' families to claim in a civil suit that the shootings were an act of terror. Federal lawyers involved in the civil suit claim that the people shot during Hasan's murderous rage were victims of workplace violence, a designation that could sharply limit the damages in a civil suit.
"This is first degree mass murder case and motive is absolutely relevant to prove premeditation," said Neal Sher, a lawyer representing many of the victims and their family members in a separate civil suit against the government.
Prosecutors have sought to portray Hasan as a Muslim extremist, motivated by Islamist ideology and in touch with known al Qaeda member Anwar Alwaki.
"He didn't want to deploy and he came to believe he had a jihad duty to murder soldiers," lead prosecutor Col. Steve Henricks said in his opening statements. He wanted to "kill as many soldiers as he could."
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled today that prosecutors could not mention Hasan's correspondence with Alwaki, an American born al Qaeda recruiter and organizer. Osborn also barred prosecutors from mentioning Hassan's interest in seeking conscientious objector status and drawing parallels to a 2003 incident in which another Muslim American soldier attacked U.S. troops in Kuwait, according to the Associated Press.
The judge found much of that evidence was too old, but permitted prosecutors to introduce evidence about Hasan's internet usage and search history from the time of the attack.
Many of the victims and their family members have filed a civil suit against the government, arguing that the attack should be classified as a terrorist attack, allowing victims to receive combat medals, like the Purple Heart, and receive better benefits.
The government maintains that the attack was an incidence of "workplace violence."
Is the judge an idiot? Well, yes. But the reason for his ruling is that if the massacre were declared a terrorist attack rather than "workplace violence," the military would be on the hook for millions of additiional dollars in benefits for the families, not to mention the increased financial exposure in a planned civil suit by family members.
President Obama could fix this ridiculous situation by simply declaring the massacre a terrorist attack. After all, he gives billions to his union friends and cronies. Why not a couple of extra million for the families of the fallen?