ABC: U.S. Knew Hasan Tried Contacting Al Qaeda Months Ago
ABC's Brian Ross reported Monday that suspected Fort Hood shooter Nidal Halik Hasan tried to contact people connected to the terrorist group al Qaeda.
Even worse, U.S. intelligence officials were aware of this months ago, and "it's not known whether the military was ever told by the CIA or others that one of its majors was making efforts to communicate with figures under electronic surveillance."
Given media's discomfort with discussing Hasan's Muslim ties, as well as their desire to never point fingers at the Obama administration, it's going to be very interesting to watch how Ross's exclusive report on "Good Morning America" Monday will be covered in the coming days (video embedded below the fold with full transcript):
ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC: We're going to turn now to the attack at Fort Hood. Authorities are actively investigating whether the suspected gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had links to any terrorist organizations. Our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross has learned that Hasan was most-likely trying to just do that, forge that kind of link?
BRIAN ROSS, ABC: Indeed, Robin. As Major Hasan's road to increased radicalization becomes clearer, ABC News has learned that U.S. intelligence agencies became aware months ago that he was attempting to make contact with people connected to al Qaeda. Two American officials who have been briefed on classified information say it's not known whether the military was ever told by the CIA or others that one of its majors was making efforts to communicate with figures under electronic surveillance by the U.S. Congress has now asked the CIA and other intelligence agencies to preserve all documents that relate to Hasan, as it appears a full investigation is now likely into whether the warning signs were missed.
Officials say they suspect Hasan was in contact with the former Imam of a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, who now operates out of Yemen. Anwar al Awlaki, an American, runs an English language website that advocates worldwide jihad, and overnight called Major Hasan a hero and a man of conscience who did the right thing. Awlaki left for Yemen after he come under investigation by the FBI for his ties to two of the 9/11 hijackers. He denied any involvement in their plot, but continues to urge violence against the U.S.
We also heard this weekend from one of the Army doctors who studied with Hasan, Dr. Val Finell, who says he complained to his superiors about Hasan and his strident views on the war and religion.
DR. VAL FINELL: He would frequently say that he was a Muslim first, and an American second. And that came out in just about everything that he did at the university. And we questioned how somebody could take an oath of office, be an officer in the military, and swear allegiance to the Constitution, and to defend America against all enemies foreign and domestic, and, and have that type of conflict.
ROSS: Shortly after that, Hasan was promoted to Major, and scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan.
ROBERTS: (Inaudible) the military is being very cautious, worried about any possible backlash.
ROSS: This just seems to be a lone wolf serious emotional troubles.
ROBERTS: All right, Brian, thank you for your investigation.
Fascinating stuff which obviously raises questions about how these new details will be reported in the coming days.
In particular, as our media loved to question whether the Bush administration did a good job of connecting the intelligence dots to try and prevent the 9/11 attacks, will the Obama administration be scrutinized for not preventing this massacre?
After all, if U.S. intelligence officials were aware that Hasan was trying to contact al Qaeda representatives, and may have been in touch with someone alleged to have ties with the 9/11 hijackers, shouldn't the military have been informed as soon as this information was obtained?
As the answer is definitively "Yes," will the intelligence agencies that dropped the ball take heat from the press for missing such obvious warning signs, and will any fingers be pointed at the Administration that currently oversees these agencies?