Victims of the Fort Hood massacre are calling for the U.S. government to declare it a terrorist attack, releasing a dramatic new video featuring first-person accounts of the 2009 shooting.
The Department of Defense has referred to the shooting rampage at the Texas Army post that left 13 people dead and more than two dozen wounded only as workplace violence. As such, soldiers injured or killed are not eligible for certain combat-related benefits or the Purple Heart.
Members of "The Truth About Fort Hood," a coalition of about 160 victims and family members, released a 14-minute video Thursday of survivors describing the events of Nov. 5, 2009, including accused shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan shouting "Allahu Akbar" before he allegedly opened fire in a medical building on the base.
"He yelled 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,' which is 'God is great,' twice," Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford said in the video. Lunsford was shot five times and lost sight in one eye. "[He] pulled out his weapon in his right hand, fist in palm, turned the lasers on, pointed the weapon at the other soldiers who were sitting there in the chairs and he started discharging his weapon inside the building."
For Hasan, the shooting "was his jihad," Lunsford said.
According to WECT-TV, both a congressional investigation and an FBI study have concluded the shooting was a terror act, but without Defense Department recognition, soldiers cannot be given "combat status."
Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who was shot six times, called it "disgraceful" for the government not to recognize soldiers for their sacrifice.
"They were killed and wounded by a domestic enemy, someone who was there that day to kill soldiers to prevent them from deploying. If that's not an act of war or an act of terrorism I don't know what is," Manning said in the video.
Congressmen John Carter (R-Texas) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) sent a letter earlier this month to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calling on him to recognize the shooting as terrorism and to issue a full apology to the victims and their families.
"[T]he evidence demonstrates that the Fort Hood attack was both predictable and preventable, and that [the Department of Defense] and the Army bear partial responsibility in this matter," the letter stated. "The soldiers and civilian victims of Fort Hood should not have been sacrificed then, and should not be ignored or mistreated now, because of a misplaced and inappropriate practice of political correctness."
Hasan's case has been on holding pending an ongoing legal battle over his beard, which violates Army standards. Hasan's attorneys maintain the beard is a religious symbol and to forcibly shave him would violate his rights. A military court ruled Thursday Hasan must shave.