Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fort Hood Shooting Survivors Sue Pentagon

WASHINGTON (CN) - Victims of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood claim in court that top Army and FBI officials ignored warning signs that Hasan was a radical jihadist.

Families of the slain soldiers and civilians, and the wounded sued Army Secretary John McHugh, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller and other officials in Federal Court under the Survival Act.

The plaintiffs claim the government "knew to a moral certainty that Hasan was a radical extremist who supported violent jihad against the United States and who considered himself a devoted fellow-traveler and 'soldier' of al-Qaeda and [Anwar] Aulaqi."

Hasan, who was born in Virginia, exchanged emails with the Aulaqi (Awlaki) before his own terrorist shooting, according to the complaint. Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in September 2011.

Lead plaintiff Shawn Nelson Manning claims the FBI ignored its constitutional duty to investigate Hasan and inform his supervisors of his contact with Awlaki.

"Yet, contrary to law, to their own rules and to plain common sense, the government defendants elevated illegal ethnic and religious preferences and 'political correctness' over national security and their own non-discretionary legal and moral duties to protect plaintiffs' lives and legal rights," the complaint states. "As a direct, proximate and foreseeable result of the government defendants' negligence, gross negligence, political correctness and deliberate indifference to and reckless disregard for plaintiffs' lives and legal rights, Hasan was able to kill 14 Americans, wound by gunshot 32 others, and injure many more."

After the rampage, the government spun into damage control "for political reasons and to protect both the policies of political correctness and the high ranking officials," the victims say.

They claim the government tried to obscure Hasan's religious motives, trying to persuade the victims that the attack was "workplace violence" and not al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism.

"Ironically, the very same government defendants who gave Hasan preferential treatment because of his ethnicity and religion have given his victims - the soldiers and civilians who were casualties in the Fort Hood terror attack - inferior and degrading treatment relative to the soldiers and civilians injured in other terrorist attacks," according to the 101-page complaint.

The more than 125 plaintiffs claim the Pentagon's promises to care for the wounded disappeared when the TV cameras left Fort Hood.

Many wounded soldiers were denied treatment, intimidated and in some cases were even disciplined, they claim.

Others were denied retirement benefits "on specious grounds through administrative appeal proceedings fatally tainted by undue command influence," they add.

The plaintiffs seek damages for civil conspiracy and assault and battery.

Along with McHugh, Panetta and Mueller, six John Doe federal officials are defendants, as well as the estate of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Hasan, who was shot during attack and permanently paralyzed from the waist down from his injuries, is also a defendant.

The plaintiffs are represented by Reed Rubinstein with Dinsmore Shohl.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.