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The Federal Bureau of Non-Investigation

11:09 PM, Nov 9, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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On Monday, ABC News first reported that Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had reached out to al Qaeda associates prior to his attack. There were good reasons to speculate that one of these al Qaeda figures is Anwar al Awlaki -- an al Qaeda recruiter who acted as a "spiritual advisor" to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Awlaki preached at a mosque Hasan attended in 2001 and praised Hasan's attack on his web site Monday morning.

It turns out that informed speculation was correct, according to the Associated Press and the New York Times. Beginning in December of last year, authorities found that Hasan communicated with Awlaki "10 to 20 times." But no formal investigation was ever launched. Why?

The FBI has offered this muddled response:

At this point, there is no information to indicate Major Malik Nidal Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot. The investigation to date has not identified a motive, and a number of possibilities remain under consideration. …

There has been and continues to be a great deal of reported information about what was or might have been known to the government about Major Hasan prior to the shooting.

Major Hasan came to the attention of the FBI in December 2008 as part of an unrelated investigation being conducted by one of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). JTTFs are FBI-led, multi-agency teams made up of FBI agents, other federal investigators-including those from the Department of Defense-and state and local law enforcement officers.

Investigators on the JTTF reviewed certain communications between Major Hasan and the subject of that investigation and assessed that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning. Other communications of which the FBI was aware were similar to the ones reviewed by the JTTF.

This is remarkable -- in the worst possible way.

The "subject of that investigation" mentioned by the FBI is Awlaki. And Hasan's communications with Awlaki should have been a major red flag. Yet, the FBI says that investigators concluded these communications were consistent with Hasan's "research and nothing else derogatory was found."

That is incredible.

Awlaki is an active al Qaeda cleric and recruiter. Undoubtedly, that's why he was being investigated in December 2008 in the first place. Moreover, Awlaki and his followers assisted three 9/11 hijackers here on U.S. soil before their day of terror and, according to the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the September 11 attacks, Awlaki was a "spiritual advisor" for at least two of them.

Why would a member of the U.S. military contact a major al Qaeda ideologue to discuss his research? The only way that could be justifiable is if that American serviceman was collecting intelligence on Awlaki and his operations. But there is no evidence that this was the case here.

In fact, as press accounts have noted, "no formal investigation" into Hasan's communications with Awlaki was ever launched. How, then, could anyone say that his communications were consistent with anything at all -- other than an Islamic extremist reaching out to a known al Qaeda patron?

The rest of the FBI's statement is even worse.

The FBI says no motive has been determined. But we know that Hasan holds extreme Islamist beliefs. There is abundant evidence to that effect. So, yes, we have at the very least determined a partial motive.

The FBI says "there is no information to indicate Major Malik Nidal Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot." But there is information connecting Hasan to possible co-conspirators. He communicated with a known al Qaeda ideologue and recruiter between 10 and 20 times and that same al Qaeda figure has openly praised Hasan's mass killing on his web site.