Aulaqi on Hasan: We were pals

So much for the “research” excuse offered by the FBI on why Nidal Hasan’s continuing correspondence with a known al-Qaeda recruiter and suspect in the 9/11 attacks didn’t require further investigation.  The Washington Post conducts an odd interview by proxy of Anwar al-Aulaqi, who claims that he became Hasan’s “confidant” over the one-year period of their regular correspondence:

Aulaqi described Hasan as a man who took his Muslim faith seriously, and who was eager to understand how to interpret Islamic sharia law. In the e-mails, Hasan appeared to question U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and often used “evidence from sharia that what America was doing should be confronted,” the cleric told Shaea.

“So Nidal was providing evidence to Anwar, not vice versa,” said Shaea. “Anwar felt, after seeing Nidal’s e-mails, that [Hasan] had wide knowledge of sharia law.” Shaea said he interviewed Aulaqi in his house on Saturday in Shabwa, a province in southern Yemen that has become an extremist stronghold and where al-Qaeda is seeking to create a haven. …

Aulaqi said Hasan viewed him as a confidant. “It was clear from his e-mails that Nidal trusted me. Nidal told me: ‘I speak with you about issues that I never speak with anyone else,’ ” he told Shaea. …

Aulaqi said Hasan’s alleged shooting spree was allowed under Islam because it was a form of jihad. “There are some people in the United States who said this shooting has nothing to do with Islam, that it was not permissible under Islam,” he said, according to Shaea. “But I would say it is permissible. . . . America was the one who first brought the battle to Muslim countries.”

Of course, the problem with this is that we have to rely on an al-Qaeda terrorist to tell us the truth.  Aulaqi knows he has a publicity gift unlike any other, which is probably the reason he played coy with the Post in the first place.  He refused a direct interview, but agreed to allow a sympathetic Yemeni journalist “with close ties to Aulaqi” to conduct the interview on the Post’s behalf (the Post paid travel expenses but did not pay the journalist for the work).  Aulaqi obviously wanted to make sure that he put exactly the right spin on the event and his relationship with Hasan.

For instance, Aulaqi — perhaps mindful that the US might otherwise make him a high-value target for a special-ops mission — insists that he never told Hasan to shoot fellow soldiers.  On the other hand, Aulaqi isn’t exactly broken up over it, either, as the above quote demonstrates.  And was it just a coincidence that days after the start of this treasonous friendship, Aulaqi began publishing calls for Muslims in the US to attack soldiers?

Still, the FBI has acknowledged that this was an ongoing correspondence.  And the Post points out that the “research” excuse never really did hold water.  Over a year ago, US officials explicitly pointed out Aulaqi as an example of al-Qaeda’s efforts to recruit within the US.  If so, wouldn’t a correspondence with an Army captain (Hasan’s rank at the time) be cause for great concern, rather than shrugged off as “research”, regardless of the length and breadth of the contact — and certainly if it stretched on for months?

Aulaqi is obviously a malicious and malignant source for insight into this attack, but that’s the point.  How many more people in the US military are in contact with Aulaqi and others like him, and did those contacts get ignored, too?