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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Nidal Hasan: The murderer, the terrorist or the martyr?

On Aug. 28, Major Nidal Hasan received the death penalty for the shooting in Ft. Hood, Texas.

Hasan killed 13 and injured 32 on Nov. 2009 when he opened fire on military personnel staging for deployment.

Hasan’s sentence will allow him the martyrdom he sought when he became the first active duty member of the U.S. military to commit an act of terror.

“He is a criminal … a cold-blooded murderer,” Head Prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan said to the Associated Press. “This is not his gift to God. This is his debt to society. This is the cost of his murderous rampage.”

The military strictly follows the Uniform Code of Military Justice as the basis of punishment to armed forces personnel, including the death penalty.

However, the death penalty was not the only option on the table; Hasan’s jury also discussed life in prison.

Hasan has yet to appeal the conviction and, according to CNN, if his sentence is carried out, he will be the first active duty service member to be executed since 1961.

Lecturer and tutor Bill McCarver, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam with the Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine, does not agree with the death penalty in principle.

“I do not consider the death penalty a deterrent,” McCarver said. “I believe that it gives the subject being executed a greater public forum.”

“The death penalty seems like an attempt through punishment to make the world fair, and the world just isn’t fair,” said senior Sarah Welch. “I think the punishment should consider the option that the criminal would dislike more.”

On the contrary, Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan agrees with Hasan’s death sentence.

“There are some people who are so evil that they cannot be allowed to continue any role in society,” said Duncan, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Duncan and McCarver, both veterans, agreed that trying Hasan in a military court-martial was the proper course of action.

“Being tried in a military court means that he was tried by his peers,” Duncan said. “That may advance his agenda in the enemy’s eyes, but it will be their choice how to interpret his actions.”

“I feel that there is a better view of evidence with the hardened eye of the military,” said McCarver. “It creates a more objective manner of legal process. The civilian courts have many more holes compared to the military courts.”

The death sentence levied against Hasan is not intended to justify his actions, but to those who believe in martyrdom, it may do exactly that.

When asked if the death penalty will give Hasan the martyrdom that he sought, Duncan said, “There are only three ways to change a martyr’s belief: the Socratic method of education, a significant emotional experience, and a frontal lobotomy — which in effect is the death sentence.”

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