Opinion Brief

Fort Hood: The Al Qaeda question

Why did the FBI disregard the Fort Hood shooter's emails to an Al Qaeda-linked cleric?

Another indication has surfaced that authorities missed key warning signs about Maj. Nidal Hasan: ABC News reports that Hasan tried to “make contact with people associated with al Qaeda," with later reports specifying that the FBI had intercepted 10 to 20 e-mails from Hasan to radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now based in Yemen. (See "Who is Anwar al-Awlaki?") Denying culpability, the FBI says the emails were justified by Hasan's academic research and did not merit more investigation. Did elite intelligence experts fall down on the job? (Watch a CBS report about Nidal Hasan's ties to Anwar al-Awlaki)

This is another FBI failure: This is our third failure since 2000 to take al-Awlaki seriously, says Thomas Joscelyn in The Weekly Standard, and now 13 more Americans are dead. Seriously, “how dense can the FBI be?” There is no legitimate reason for a U.S. Army officer to “contact a major Al Qaeda ideologue.” It’s “myopic to the point of absurdity” to say there’s “no evidence of a ‘broader terrorist plot.’”“The Federal Bureau of Non-Investigation”
Al Qaeda and neocons agree on something: The Hasan-Al Qaeda reports are “sketchy,” says John Cook in Gawker, but they’re clearly “something both terrorists and wingnuts wish were true.” Both Sen. Joe Lieberman and al-Awlaki’s team “want Hasan to be a Muslim terrorist,” and for the same political reason: it “helps them scare the sh*t out of people.” It’s hard to show that Al Qaeda jihadists are lurking everywhere if Hasan was a mere lone-wolf murderer.“How the Ft. Hood shooter brings radical clerics and right-wing nuts together”

It’s hard to stop fanatics, period: I think the evidence is actually growing that Hasan’s “a crazy fanatic who wanted to get in touch with Al Qaeda,” says Megan McArdle in The Atlantic, and that somebody should have done something about him. But what? The FBI has done “very well” at disrupting terrorist plots, but it’s harder to stop a “lone gunman with no need for a support team.” And that’s true if you’re an Al Qaeda wannabe or an abortion-doctor killer.
“The lessons of Fort Hood”

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SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF FORT HOOD:

Who is Anwar al-Awlaki: What's known about Hasan's Al-Qaeda's connectionFort Hood: What the world is sayingRed flags at Fort HoodSunday Talk Show Briefing: Religion's role in Fort Hood (Video)Fort Hood: Obama's "flippant" speech
Who is Nidal Hasan: A timeline of the suspect's life

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