And so a personnel file already teeming with red flags gets another giant one. If you’re wondering how a British newspaper managed to track down this information when the U.S. military apparently couldn’t, you’re not alone. There’s no question now that we need congressional hearings into how the army missed the warning signs on Hasan, especially given the suspicions as to why they might have looked the other way. Chop chop, Messrs. Boehner and Cantor.
Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother’s funeral was held there in May that year.
The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations.
Hasan’s eyes “lit up” when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki’s teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday’s horrific shooting spree.
Awlaki turned up in the 9/11 Commission report as someone whose connection to the hijackers might have been more than incidental. WaPo followed up last year and found that U.S. intelligence suspects him of having worked with Al Qaeda in the Gulf after leaving Virginia in 2002. Quote from a U.S. counterterrorism official: “There is good reason to believe Anwar Aulaqi has been involved in very serious terrorist activities since leaving the United States, including plotting attacks against America and our allies.”
More from the Telegraph piece via another Muslim soldier known as Richard, who was friends with Hasan and who talked about him to a mutual acquaintance, Kamran Pasha:
Richard had previously argued with Hasan when he said that he felt the “war on terror” was really a war against Islam, expressed anti-Jewish sentiments and defended suicide bombings.
“I asked Richard whether he believed that Hasan was motivated by religious radicalism in his murderous actions,” Mr Pasha said.
“Richard, with great sadness, said that he believed this was true. He also believed that psychological factors from Hasan’s job as an army psychiatrist added to his pathos. The news that he would be deployed overseas, to a war that he rejected, may have pushed him over the edge.
The Telegraph’s got a whole package on Hasan tonight, which I recommend. This piece — which includes details of a mysterious man seen with him for the first time just last week — is also worth reading, and provides the first hard details I’ve come across about him handing out Korans to the neighbors the night before the murders. Exit quotation from the hero of Fort Hood, uttered as her very first words after regaining consciousness: “Did anybody die?”
Update: Asra Nomani interviewed the congregants at the mosque he attended while living in Maryland. Quote: “He was a typical fundamentalist Muslim.”
But a closer look behind the doors of the mosque and inside the conversations between the engineer and the doctor reveal a more complex picture of a young first-generation American Muslim man living a life of dissonance between his identity as an American and his ideology as a Muslim who had accepted a literal, rigid interpretation of Islam, akin to the puritanical Wahhabi and Salafi interpretations of Islam that define the theology of militancy inside the Muslim world today, according to community members who knew Hasan.
“So many time I talked with him,” said Akhter, a community leader who is sort of like a mosque gadfly, challenging congregants to reject literal, rigid interpretations of Islam. “I was trying to modernize him. I tried my best. He used to hate America as a whole. He was more anti-American than American.”
Despite all the conversations, Akther said, “I couldn’t get through to him. He was a typical fundamentalist Muslim.”
Follow the link for details of Akhter’s exchange with Hasan about what “jihad” really means.