Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Didn't the Relationship Between Dr. Nidal Hasan and Anwar al-Aulaqi Raise Flags at the FBI?

"Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert who has consulted with the FBI and the Defense Department...said only a 'breakdown' could explain the FBI's failure to dig deeper when it discovered late last year that Hasan was communicating by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric in Yemen...

'Everybody at the FBI knows who Anwar al-Awlaki is,' Kohlmann said. "In the world of jihadis, this guy is Bruce Springsteen.'"---Dallas Morning News (11-13-09)

According to media accounts, the mass-murdering Fort Hood traitor Dr. Nidal Hasan was reportedly in contact with the American-born al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Aulaqi (Awlaki), pictured above. According to the 9-11 Commission Report, al-Aulaqi is also an American citizen.

Although the FBI has posted a press release about Dr. Hasan, they have not officially named al-Aulaqi as Dr. Hasan's contact. Still, the unnamed "subject" of the JTTF investigation described in the FBI press release seems to be al-Aulaqi, an American citizen. As the FBI press release notes, "[T]he government remains limited in what information can be disclosed publicly about a U.S. citizen under investigation."

It is not yet clear why investigators did not consider Dr. Hasan a security risk since they were aware of his contacts. It is not clear why they decided Dr. Hasan's communications with these unnamed people were nothing but "research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center." It is also not clear why the FBI describes his communications as "research" while other media reports claim Dr. Hasan was looking for "spiritual and religious guidance."

Fox News (11-11-09) reports:

Though officials discovered Hasan's e-mails to the imam, one government counterterrorism investigator said the messages suggested he was seeking "spiritual and religious guidance."

The Dallas Morning News (9-13-09) has published an interesting article about Dr. Nidal Hasan's financial support of Islamist terrorists. The article notes:

Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert who has consulted with the FBI and the Defense Department, noted that Hasan is a U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent, with no known family ties to Pakistan. Kohlmann said that leaves only two reasons for the psychiatrist to wire money to the South Asian country: to support charity or to support jihad.

Westerners who want to give to a legitimate Pakistani charity typically would do so by putting money in a U.S. or British bank account, he added.

"It raises huge alarm bells," Kohlmann said of Hasan's reported wire transfers...

Dennis Lormel, a former FBI special agent who directed the agency's efforts to identify sources of terrorist financing, said investigators would take note of the large amount of disposable income Hasan apparently had. He made more than $90,000 a year, had no wife or dependents, and paid about $300 a month for a tiny apartment.

"It seems like there is a lifestyle that was beneath his means," said Lormel, now a managing director for IPSA International, a consultant to banks on combating money laundering. "Where is the money going?"

Lormel said Hasan could have used several channels to wire money abroad, including remittance services that cater to immigrant workers who send money to their native countries. If that were the case, there may be documentation of the transaction, Lormel and others said.

Banks and other money transmitters must tell the Treasury Department if an individual sends more than $10,000 outside the country.

Kohlmann said only a "breakdown" could explain the FBI's failure to dig deeper when it discovered late last year that Hasan was communicating by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric in Yemen.

The U.S.-born imam exhorted Western Muslims in January to practice jihad – often translated as "holy war" – by donating money.

Al-Awlaki worked several years ago at a northern Virginia mosque that Hasan and some of the 9/11 hijackers attended. Federal authorities have investigated the cleric's ties to terrorists since the 1990s but never brought charges against him.

"Everybody at the FBI knows who Anwar al-Awlaki is," Kohlmann said. "In the world of jihadis, this guy is Bruce Springsteen."

After the Fort Hood massacre, the cleric said on his blog that Hasan was "a hero."

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