On November 5, 2009, a mass shooting took place at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas. Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others. The shooting produced more casualties than any other on an American military base. Several individuals, including Senator Joe Lieberman, General Barry McCaffrey, and others have called the event a terrorist attack. The United States Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies had classified the shootings as an act of workplace violence. This was changed by the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act which broadened the criteria for awarding the Purple Heart to include "an attack by a foreign terrorist organization….if the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization." This allowed the Army to award the Purple Heart, and its civilian equivalent, The Defense of Freedom Medal, to victims of the attack.
Hasan was shot and as a result is paralyzed from the waist down. Hasan was arraigned by a military court on July 20, 2011 and was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. His court-martial began on August 7, 2013. Due to the nature of the charges (more than one premeditated, or first-degree, murder case, in a single crime), Hasan faced either the death penalty or life in prison without parole upon conviction. Hasan was found guilty on all 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder on August 23, 2013, and was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.
Days after the shooting, reports in the media revealed that a Joint Terrorism Task Force had been aware of a series of e-mails between Hasan and the Yemen-based imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been monitored by the NSA as a security threat, and that Hasan's colleagues had been aware of his increasing radicalization for several years. The failure to prevent the shootings led the Defense Department and the FBI to commission investigations, and Congress to hold hearings.
The U.S. government declined requests from survivors and family members of the slain to categorize the Fort Hood shooting as an act of terrorism, or motivated by militant Islamic religious convictions. In November 2011, a group of survivors and family members filed a lawsuit against the government for negligence in preventing the attack, and to force the government to classify the shootings as terrorism. The Pentagon argued that charging Hasan with terrorism was not possible within the military justice system and that such action could harm the military prosecutors' ability to sustain a guilty verdict against Hasan.