WASHINGTON — Intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between the military psychiatrist accused of shooting to death 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., and a radical cleric in Yemen known for his incendiary anti-American teachings.
But the federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages from the psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, did not suggest any threat of violence and concluding that no further action was warranted, government officials said Monday.
Major Hasan’s 10 to 20 messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, once a spiritual leader at a mosque in suburban Virginia where Major Hasan worshiped, indicate that the troubled military psychiatrist came to the attention of the authorities long before last Thursday’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but that the authorities left him in his post.
Counterterrorism and military officials said Monday night that the communications, first intercepted last December as part of an unrelated investigation, were consistent with a research project the psychiatrist was then conducting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There was no indication that Major Hasan was planning an imminent attack at all, or that he was directed to do anything,” one senior investigator said. He and the other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying the case was under investigation.
The officials said the Departments of Defense and Justice had decided Major Hasan would be prosecuted in a military court, an indication that investigators believe he acted alone. Government lawyers had said his case might be tried in civilian court if he were believed to have conspired with nonmilitary defendants.
In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, “At this point, there is no information to indicate Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot.” The statement concluded that “because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else was found,” investigators decided “that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning.”
Officials said the F.B.I. and the Defense Department would be reviewing their earlier assessment of Major Hasan to determine whether it was handled correctly
Yea, I would hope so, especially when you combine it with other evidence like this:
The Army psychiatrist believed to have killed 13 people at Fort Hood warned a roomful of senior Army physicians a year and a half ago that to avoid “adverse events,” the military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims.
As a senior-year psychiatric resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan was supposed to make a presentation on a medical topic of his choosing as a culminating exercise of the residency program.
Instead, in late June 2007, he stood before his supervisors and about 25 other mental health staff members and lectured on Islam, suicide bombers and threats the military could encounter from Muslims conflicted about fighting in the Muslim countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a copy of the presentation obtained by The Washington Post.
“It’s getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims,” he said in the presentation.
“It was really strange,” said one staff member who attended the presentation and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the investigation of Hasan. “The senior doctors looked really upset” at the end. These medical presentations occurred each Wednesday afternoon, and other students had lectured on new medications and treatment of specific mental illnesses.
The title of Hasan’s PowerPoint presentation was “The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.” It consisted of 50 slides. In one slide, Hasan described the presentation’s objectives as identifying “what the Koran inculcates in the minds of Muslims and the potential implications this may have for the U.S. military.”
He also sought to “describe the nature of the religious conflicts that Muslims” who serve in the U.S. military may have and to persuade the Army to identify these individuals.
Other slides delved into the history of Islam, its tenets, statistics about the number of Muslims in the military, and explanations of “offensive jihad,” or holy war.
Another slide suggested ways to draw out Muslim troops: “It must be hard for you to balance Islamic beliefs that might be conflicting with current war; feelings of guilt; Is it what you expected.”
Hasan’s presentation lasted about an hour. It is unclear whether he read out loud every point on each slide. If typical procedures were followed, his adviser would have supervised the development of his project, said people familiar with the practice.
The final three slides indicate that Hasan referred to Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, suicide bombers and Iran.
Under a slide titled “Comments,” he wrote: “If Muslim groups can convince Muslims that they are fighting for God against injustices of the ‘infidels’; ie: enemies of Islam, then Muslims can become a potent adversary ie: suicide bombing, etc.” [sic]
The last bullet point on that page reads simply: “We love death more then [sic] you love life!”
At this point, the question isn’t whether Hasan was part of a wider plot, because it is quite obvious that he was not. It isn’t whether Muslim-Americans can be trusted in the United States military, because by their own sacrifices many of them have proved that they can. It’s whether the Army either missed or ignored warning signs coming from this guy that could have saved the lives of 13 people and one unborn child.
That’s all that matters.