FORT HOOD REPORT DIGESTED (FBI Assessment) (Pt. 4)
This is the 4th in a series of articles digesting the Fort Hood report. To start with the 1stone go here.
This portion of the Report is extremely tedious to read. Even this digested article may prove tedious. It is certainly longer then I would generally prefer. Nevertheless, I have highlighted a few key pieces of information; skim them and decide if you want to read this entire article, I suspect you will.
There are two primary offices involved in the review of Hassan’s emails to Aulaqi. Recall that in my previous article here; “Through December 17, 2008, the date of Hasan’s first message to Aulaqi, the FBI reviewed 12,799 electronic documents; approximately 1,420 per month or 65 to 70 per work day.” Further “the Aulaqi investigation occasionally serves as a “trip wire” for identifying persons of potential interest for additional investigation.”
San Diego Office (hereinafter “SDO”) 12/17/08 – 1/ 7/09
On December 17, 2008, Hassan “trips the wire” when he visits Aulaqi’s website and sends Aulaqi an email that says, in part “Can you make some general comments about Muslims in the U.S. military.”
SDO identifies the email as a “Product of Interest”. SD-Agent [agents are thusly identified uniquely throughout the report to protect their identities ] disseminates the email through channels requesting “Can we check to see if this guy is a military member?” Agent SDO-TF03 agent searches “Nidal Hassan” in a single government database and concludes Hasan is NOT a member of the military.
On January 7. 2009 Agent SD-TF02 emails SD-Agent that while Hassan may not be a military member “I still think this would [merit a higher investigative priority designation]. There might be some other information out there that links him to the military in some way…. Did you check to see what other Hasan’a are in the military? If not, I can have out guy run just the last name.”
Later that day, after checking additional databases, SD-TF03 locates an active duty Army officer named Nidal Malik Hasan assigned to Walter Reed Mediacal Center. SD-TF03 misinterprets “Comm Officer” [Comissioned Officer] to indicate that Hasan is “Communication Officer”.
On January 7, 2009 SDFO sends the Hasan lead to the Washington, D.C. Field Office (“WFO”) because Hassan appears to physically be in WFO’s area of responsibility. SDFO appends the following notation: “While email contact with Aulaqi does not necessarily indicate participation in terrorist related matters, Aulaqi’s reputation background, and anti-U.S. sentiments are well known… this type of contact with Aulaqi would be of concern if the writer is actually the individual identified above [Hasan].” SDFO also notes that since Hasan may have access to message traffic [recall he is misidentified as a communications officer], this intel should not be disseminated through the usual military communication channels.
SDFO’s principal target is Aulaqi, so SD-Agent did not view the Hassan information as something that would further the Aulaqi investigation. He does not intend to follow-up WFO’s actions.
Washington, D.C. Office (“WFO”) 1/ 7/09 – 2/25/09
Lead is sent by SD-Agent to WFO on January, 7, 2009. WFO does not review the Hassan lead until February 25, 2009. The Report surmises this delay may be due to election and inauguration of president Obama.
SDFO 1/ 7/09 – 2/25/09
SDFO reviews at least 3,000 electronic documents [emails?] in the Aulaqi investigation. Hasan sends six messages. Aulaqi responds twice. These additional communications are not associated with previous messages nor the lead sent to WFO. At the time, new messages can only be associated with earlier messages through memory, notes or actively searching the system.
On January 18, 2009 Hasan sends another message to Aulaqi stating in part “How is it that Israel and the U.S. can get away with so much in the way of mischief that they create on the earth… the Western world makes it clear that it does not want Islamic rule to prevail.” Aulaqi does not reply.
On February 16, 2009 Hasan writes to Aulaqi three times to inquire about how to donate money to Aulaqi. SDFO deems all three messages “Not a Product of Interest”.
On February 19, 2009 Hasan sends another email to Aulaqi stating in part “You have a very huge following but even among those there seems to be a large majority that are paralyzed by fear of losing some aspect of dunya [def.- “the temporal world as opposed to the eternal spiritual realm”].”
On February 22, 2009 Hassan replies to a message from Aulaqi, stating in part “My Name is Nidal Hasan. If you Google “CSTS and Nidal Hassan” you will see a picture of me. I currently reside in Silver Spring MD; 301-547-1599. I was born and raised in the U.S. Both of my parents are from Palestine [but have passed away]. I joined the U.S. military at age 17… Allah lifted the veil from my eyes about 8-9 years ago and I have been striving for Jannat Firdaus [probably meaning Jannatual Firdaus- “Garden of Paradise”] ever since.”
SDFO deems this message “Not a Product of Interest”.
On February 25, 2009 the WFO Supervisory Special Agent (“WFO-SSA”) reads the initial SDFO January 7, 2009 lead on Hasan. WFO-SSA instructs WFO-TFO to do an “assessment”. Informal FBI policy requires assignments on such leads to be completed within 90 days. On May 27, 2009, the 90th day after the lead was assigned, WFO-TFO reads the lead. In the intervening 90 days, Hasan has communicated with Aulaqi 5 more times.
SDFO 2/25/09 – 5/27/09
On February 28, 2009, Hasan sends Aulaqi a link to a news article about a Maryland Iman. SD-Agent identifies this email as a “Product of Interest” because it “reasonably Appears to be Foreign Intelligence”.
On March 7, 2009 Hasan writes Aulaqi again, including what his name, titles and what may be his work address and phone number. SDFO identifies this as “Reasonable Appears to be Foreign Inetlligence” because [REASON REDACTED].
**On May 17, 2009 Hasan is promoted from Captain to Major.**
WFO-TFO notes SDFO’s not uncommon misinterpretation of “Comm Officer” to mean Communications Officer. WFO-TPO confirms Nidal Malik Hassan’s actual status and duty location and also learns that Hasan has a “Secret” security clearance and has recently passed a clearance re-investigation. WFO-TFO has limited access to DoD personnel files; the files he can review have almost uniformly positive evaluations of Hasan. One of Hasan’s evaluations notes Hasan’s research on Islamic beliefs and that Hasan “has extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.”
WFO_TFO concludes that Hasan’s communications with Aulaqi are relevant to his military duties. WFO_TFO further concludes Hasan is not involved in terrorist activity and that this lead requires no futher invesitigative action.
However, WFO-SSA and WFO-TFO discuss whether an interview of Hasan or his superior is warranted. They decide any Hasan interview may jeopardize the Aulaqi investigation and may harm Hasan’s career.
WFO informs SDFO that “…Hasan was not contacted nor were his [superiors]. Given the context of his military/medical research and the content of his, to date, unanswered message, WFO does not currently assess Hasan to be involved in terrorist activities. WFO will re-assess this matter if additional information is identified.”
[Author’s note: It must be highlighted that WFO’s belief that Aulaqi has not responded to Hasan is factually incorrect. Further, WFO had failed to search all FBI and DoD databases; said search may have revealed the additional Hasan communications with Aulaqi as well as Aulaqi’s replies.]
SDFO 5/27/09 – 6/11/2009
On May 31, 2009 Hasan sends yet another email which says in part “I heard a speaker defending suicide bombings as permissible and have been using his logic in debates to see how effective it really is… [I assume suicide bombers killing of innocents is acceptable].”
SDFO identifies this message as “Not a Product of Interest”.
SDFO & WFO 6/11/2009 – 6/15/2009
On June 11, SDFO reviews WFO’s response to the Hasan lead and finds it inadequate. SDFO suspects Hasan is a confidential source for WFO. SFO elects to follow up with WFO, a rare step. SDFO calls WFO-TFO but is unable to reach that agent purportedly due to a shooting at the Holocaust Museuem. SDFO emails WFO-TFO, stating in part “The response looks a little slim, i.e. limited probing into [Hasan’s] background, no contact w/ command and no interview of Hasan. We were wondering if we were missing something, i.e. we need to read between the lines (Hasan is a a friend of WFO)?”.
WFO replies in part, “ Sorry I couldn’t get back to you on a hard line… I did however, determine that Hasan was conducting US Army sponsored research that was online with the questions he sent aulaqi… Given the context of his military/medical research and the content of his, to date, unanswered message, WFO does not currently assess Hasan to be involved in terrorist activities. WFO will re-assess this matter if additional information is identified.” [Blogger’s note: the last two sentences are Italicized because it appears to have been “cut & pasted” from WFO’s reply to the initial Hasan lead; I too, “cut & pasted” that text from above!!] WFO futher notes that Hasan is not a confidential informant.
SDFO again contacts WFO-TPO by phone to press the issue but no further action is taken by either office.
SDFO 6/16/2009 – 6/17/2009 & After
On June 16, 2009 Hasan sends his final message to Aulaqi, it is identified “Not a Product of Interest”.
The Fort Hood report notes that by June 16, 2009 the SDFO has “reviewed more than 20,000 electronic documents as part of the investigation- on average 1,373 per month or 65 to 70 per work day.”
July 31, 2009 Hasan buys a handgun in Texas.
October, 2009 Hasan is notified he will be deployed to Afghanistan in November.
November 5, 2009 Hassan shoots and kills 13, wounding 43 other, at Fort Hood.
Aulaqi hails Hasan as a role model, stating “Who would object to that?”
On September 30, 2011 Aulagi is killed in Yemen, apparently by a US drone strike.
Conclusion: This concludes the “Fort Hood Report Digested” series.The balance of the report is about remedial measures taken by the Government to correct the problems revealed in the report. Further, the balance of the report is heavily redacted for national security reasons.
UPDATE: 10/19/2012- The Obama Administration continues to classify this attack as “workplace violence”, NOT a terrorist attack!!