A Muslim Army major charged in last year's killing rampage at a Texas Army base sat in a courtroom packed with victims and their families Tuesday, as his lawyer sought to delay a military tribunal until November.
The accused, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, appeared briefly before the Article 32 hearing in a wheelchair, but did not speak at the proceeding to determine if he will stand trial.
Hasan was left paralyzed by bullet wounds inflicted during the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting at the Fort Hood Army base, which killed 13 people in an incident that raised concerns over the threat of "home grown" terrorist attacks.
Legal experts expect the case to proceed and Hasan, a 40-year-old Army psychiatrist, could face the death penalty.
Col. James Pohl, the presiding officer at Hasan's hearing, adjourned Tuesday to weigh requests by Hasan's lawyer, retired Col. John Galligan, to postpone the hearing until Nov. 8. The proceeding will reconvene Wednesday.
Galligan says he is not convinced Hasan will get a fair trial because the Army has failed to release key documents.
"The defense position should be that we should all be together, with one goal in mind, and that is to make sure that if Major Hasan is sent to a trial, it is a fair trial, and it be a public trial," Galligan said before the hearing.
In the rampage at the world's largest military facility, witnesses said they heard Hasan shout "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is Greatest" -- just before opening fire on a group of soldiers preparing for health checks before being deployed.
32 WOUNDED WITNESSES
Pohl has said he will call as witnesses the 32 people wounded during the shooting. The proceeding, which is open to the media, could stretch over a month.
Army Private Marquis Smith, among those set to testify, recalled being shot in the foot by Hasan during the incident.
"When I saw the back of (Hasan), I turned and I ran, and that's when I started ... hearing bullets fly past me and hitting the wall," Smith said.
Fort Hood is a major deployment point for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
U.S. officials said Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, an anti-American al Qaeda figure based in Yemen.
There have been a number of recent cases of so-called "home-grown terrorism" in which U.S.-born individuals or naturalized citizens have mounted attacks on U.S. soil.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks using hijacked aircraft in Washington and New York, U.S. security officials have focused on attacks from Al Qaeda that originate overseas, said Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute.
"In fact, the growing threat that we feel exists is actually here in the United States," Kaniewski said.
Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, was given a life sentence after attempting to set off a car bomb in New York's busy Times Square on May 1. (Additional reporting and writing by Chris Baltimore in Houston; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Todd Eastham)
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