Report: Fort Hood Shooter Nidal Malik Hasan Tried to Contact Al Qaeda, and CIA Knew It

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This morning, a number of news reports indicate that Major Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting spree at Fort Hood last week was anything but the result of a sudden mental snap. ABC News is reporting, in a somewhat vaguely worded story, that Hasan "was attempting to make contact with people associated with Al Qaeda." Their two sources claim the CIA knew about these attempts but may not have alerted the Army, and so far have not briefed congressional intelligence committees. What's unclear is whether these so-called "attempts to make contact" are the same as the revelation in a similar story that came out yesterday, which revealed that while living in Washington in early 2001, Hasan worshiped at a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, which was run at the time by radical imam Anwar Aulaqi. Before 9/11, Aulaqi met with Nawaf al-Hazmi, one of the terrorist hijackers (who brought another one, Hani Hanjour, to services at Aulaqi's mosque). Aulaqi denies having known about the 9/11 attacks, but after being questioned by the FBI, he relocated to Yemen.

In a blog post this morning entitled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Aulaqi called the Fort Hood shooter a "hero" who "could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

Meanwhile, the Times reports this morning, in a lengthy analysis of Hasan's personal history, that while studying for his master's degree, in an environmental health seminar, he once gave a PowerPoint presentation called "Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam." He also frequently complained bitterly to fellow worshipers at his mosque about oppression of Muslim soldiers in the Army. When, in 2004, he sought legal advice about garnering a discharge, he was told (perhaps inaccurately) that it would be all but impossible.

Many of the reports out today include interviews with people who interacted with Hasan as patients or colleagues, indicating in some way or another that they knew there was something wrong with him. Cindy Gagnier, a mother of a soldier to whom Hasan ministered psychological help at Walter Reed Medical Center, told the Daily News: "I looked into his eyes, and he scared me."

Officials: US Aware of Hasan's Attempts to Contact Al Qaeda [ABC News]
9/11 link in Ft. Hood slay spree [NYP]
Fort Hood Gunman Gave Signals Before His Rampage [NYT]

Update: The CIA appears to be denying that they've held anything back from Congress. "This is a law enforcement investigation, in which other agencies — not the CIA — have the lead. Any suggestion that the CIA refused to brief Congress is flat wrong," CIA spokesman George Little told Talking Points Memo.