CBS/ AP) Maj. Nadil Malik Hasan reportedly told a radical Imam suspected of ties to al Qaeda, “I can’t wait to join you” in the afterlife in a series of e-mail messages over the last year.
An American official with access to the top secret e-mails told ABC News that Hasan also asked Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who has encouraged violence against U.S. soldiers through his Web site, when it’s appropriate to conduct jihad and whether killing innocent people was permissible.
Hasan is suspected in the Fort Hood shooting rampage that killed 13 people and left 29 more wounded. He’s been charged in a military court with 13 counts of murder and faces the death penalty if convicted.
Hasan also boasted that, “my strength is in my financial capabilities” in one of the messages. According to the report, investigators have found Hasan donated between $20,000 and $30,000 a year to Islamic charities that were potential covers for terrorist groups.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a Pentagon-wide review of the circumstances surrounding the Fort Hood shootings.
“The most important thing for us now is to find out what actually happened, put all the facts together and figure out a way where we can do everything possible so that nothing like this ever happens again,” Gates told reporters during press conference Thursday with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs.
Gates said the 45-day review, led by former former Army Secretary Togo West and former Navy chief Vernon Clark, will look into gaps in how the military identifies service members who might be a threat to others.
The review also will look at personnel and medical programs, and at how well U.S. bases are able to respond to mass casualty incidents.
“The shootings at Fort Hood raise a number of troubling questions that demand complete but prompt answers,” Gates said. He said the review would seek to ensure the health and safety of military members and their families.
President Obama already has ordered a review of all intelligence related to Hasan, including his contacts with a al-Awlaki and concerns about the major voiced by some medical colleagues, and whether the information was properly shared and acted upon within government agencies.
Investigators have said e-mails between Hasan al-Awlaki, did not advocate or threaten violence. After the shootings, al-Awlaki’s Web site praised Hasan as a hero. Holder said investigators still were gathering evidence in the case.
Hasan’s psychiatry supervisors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center had expressed concerns in May 2007 about what they described as Hasan’s “pattern of poor judgment and lack of professionalism.” The Associated Press had previously reported that doctors there discussed concerns about Hasan’s overly zealous religious views and strange behavior months before the attack, but National Public Radio on Wednesday published an evaluation letter signed by the department’s psychiatry residency program director, Maj. Scott Moran.
Moran concluded that Hasan still could graduate and did not deserve even probation because Hasan was able to improve his behavior once confronted by supervisors. About a year after Moran’s memo was written, Hasan was selected for promotion from captain to major, a position that would give him increased pay and responsibilities. He would formally become a major in May 2009 and by July he was on his way to Fort Hood.