His “religion” also required him to murder 13 American soldiers in cold blood.

FORT HOOD, TEXAS (AP) — The Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage told a judge Thursday that he grew a beard because his Muslim faith requires it, not as a show of disrespect.

Speaking in court for the first time since showing up with a beard in violation of Army regulations in June, Maj. Nidal Hasan responded to Col. Gregory Gross when the judge asked why he had the beard.

“In the name of almighty Allah, I am a Muslim,” Hasan said. “I believe my religion requires me to wear a beard.”

The pretrial hearing was the first since a military appeals court stopped proceedings Aug. 15 to consider the dispute over Hasan’s beard less than a week before his court-martial was to begin. Gross held Hasan in contempt of court and fined him $1,000 for a sixth time Thursday, and again sent him to a nearby room to watch the rest of the proceedings on closed-circuit television.

“I am not trying to disrespect your authority as a judge,” Hasan said before his latest removal from the courtroom.

“When I stand before God, I am individually responsible for my actions,” he said, apparently referring to the beard.

Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the November 2009 attack that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen others on the Texas Army post.

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