Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

Prosecutors probe motive in Fort Hood trial

FORT HOOD, Texas — The prosecutors pursuing the death penalty against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will soon begin trying to answer a difficult but key question: Why did Major Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a US military base?

Both sides offered a few hints so far. Although he’s been mostly silent in the courtroom, Hasan used his brief opening statement to tell jurors he had ‘‘switched sides’’ in what he called America’s war with Islam and he later leaked documents to the media showing he believed he could be a martyr.

Continue reading below

Military prosecutors opened the trial by saying they would show that Hasan felt he had a ‘‘jihad duty,’’ referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. After calling almost 80 witnesses over two weeks, prosecutors said they would begin tackling the question this week.

How much they can say to jurors, however, may be limited by the judge. Even though plenty of information about Hasan’s extremist views has been published outside the courtroom since the rampage, the 13 military officers on the jury said they had not closely followed the case and wouldn’t read news coverage during the trial.

Prosecutors asked the military judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, on Friday to approve evidence and several witnesses to explain Hasan’s mindset. Such evidence includes references to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Prosecutor Colonel Steve Henricks told Osborn that Hasan had shown interest in Akbar’s case and prosecutors wanted to prove Hasan’s attack was a ‘‘copycat.’’

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com