The Blog

Will the FBI Properly Investigate the Fort Hood shooter's Alleged al Qaeda Ties?

1:25 PM, Nov 9, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Substantive red flags have surfaced in the ongoing investigation of Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. This includes details that go well beyond his radical Islamist and anti-American beliefs. The most disturbing threads of evidence link Hasan to a prominent al Qaeda recruiter named Anwar al Awlaki (sometimes spelled Aulaqi).

The FBI dropped the ball when investigating Awlaki at least twice in the past. So one must ask: Will the FBI and other U.S. authorities properly investigate Awlaki, including his purported ties to Hasan, this time?

According to press reports, Nidal Malik Hasan attended the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, VA in 2001 and held his mother's funeral there on May 31, 2001. Two of the 9/11 hijackers also visited the same mosque and received assistance from its members during this period. Awlaki was an imam at the mosque at this time.

Awlaki is a known al Qaeda recruiter and spiritual guide. His sermons have inspired terrorists around the globe. Some might dismiss Hasan's visits to Dar al Hijrah at the same time Awlaki was preaching there as mere coincidence. But there are troubling signs that it cannot be dismissed so easily.

Early this morning, Awlaki posted a blog entry titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing" on his web site. In the post, Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero." Awlaki writes:

[Hasan] is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn't exist. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier. The US is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges.

Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

This is disturbing to say the least. Awlaki is calling on other Muslim servicemen to follow Hasan's lead. It also raises the possibility that Hasan had deeper ties to al Qaeda's international terrorist network than have been previously reported. In fact, ABC News reported a bombshell this morning:

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.

ABC News does not say which al Qaeda associates Hasan tried to contact. It is certainly possible that Awlaki is one of them, but that is speculative at this point. The ABC News report also does not say if Hasan was successful in these efforts. But still, the mere fact that he tried to contact al Qaeda associates (if true) should give pause to those who wish to dismiss the broader implications of Hasan's shooting spree.

Right now, the key figure in the investigation, besides Hasan, is Awlaki. He has been known to U.S. authorities for more than a decade.