The Blog

Dueling Narratives on Fort Hood Shooter's Money Transfers

7:12 AM, Nov 25, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Two contradictory narratives explaining Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's money transfers to Pakistan have emerged in the press. At this point, we know that in the months leading up to the Fort Hood shooting, Major Hasan wired a significant amount of money to Pakistan (it is not clear precisely how much). But anonymous sources differ on the meaning of the transfers.

It is worth reproducing lengthy excerpts from two press accounts in order to demonstrate the problem.

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported:

In the months before the deadly shootings at Fort Hood, Army Maj. Nidal M. Hasan intensified his communications with a radical Yemeni American cleric and began to discuss surreptitious financial transfers and other steps that could translate his thoughts into action, according to two sources briefed on a collection of secret e-mails between the two.

…

Hasan's contacts with extremist imam Anwar al-Aulaqi began as religious queries but took on a more specific and concrete tone before he moved to Texas, where he allegedly unleashed the Nov. 5 attack that killed 13 people and wounded nearly three dozen, said the sources who were briefed on the e-mails, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the case is sensitive and unfolding. One of those sources said the two discussed in "cryptic and coded exchanges" the transfer of money overseas in ways that would not attract law enforcement attention.

"He [Hasan] clearly became more radicalized toward the end, and was having discussions related to the transfer of money and finances . . .," said the source, who spoke at length in part because he was concerned the public accounting of the events has been incomplete. "It became very clear toward the end of those e-mails he was interested in taking action."

…

In the months before the shootings, the two [Aulaqi and Hasan] discussed how Hasan could make several transactions of less than $10,000, a threshold for reporting to U.S. authorities, according to the source who spoke extensively. Hasan did not explicitly vow to fund terrorist activities or evade tax and reporting laws for contributions, the source said.

"I believe they were interested in the money for operational-type aspects, and knowing that he had funds and wouldn't be around to use them, they were very eager to get those funds," he said.

Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News reported:

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's wire transfers to Pakistan occurred in the months leading up to the Fort Hood massacre but were unrelated to it, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

The money "went to people not related to terrorism," he said, declining to elaborate.

FBI officials investigating the accused Army psychiatrist's motives and connections have closed this line of inquiry but may still be examining other possible foreign financial ties, the official said. He spoke on the condition that he not be identified.

…

The law enforcement official told The News he didn't know how much money Hasan sent to Pakistan. He would not name the recipients or describe them in general terms.

He did say that Hasan's transfers seemed unrelated to his e-mail correspondence with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in the U.S. but has lived for years in his parents' native Yemen.

Let's compare and contrast the two accounts. In the Post's account, Hasan had discussed his wire transfers with Anwar al Awlaki, who is a known al Qaeda recruiter and prominent jihadist ideologue. Awlaki is not interested in directing money to legitimate charitable causes; he is devoted to waging violent jihad. The Post also quoted an anonymous official as saying that Awlaki and Hasan were interested in making his funds accessible for "operational-type aspects"--that is, terrorism.