Nov. 10, 2009 — -- A senior government official tells ABC News that investigators have found that alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan had "more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI" than just radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki. The official declined to name the individuals but Congressional sources said their names and countries of origin were likely to emerge soon.
Questions already surround Major Hasan's contact with Awlaki, a radical cleric based in Yemen whom authorities consider a recruiter for al Qaeda. U.S. officials now confirm Hasan sent as many as 20 e-mails to Awlaki. Authorities intercepted the e-mails but later deemed them innocent or protected by the first amendment.
The FBI said it turned over the information to the Army, but Defense Department officials today denied that. One military investigator on a joint terror task force with the FBI was shown the e-mails, but they were never forwarded in a formal way to more senior officials at the Pentagon, and the Army did not learn of the contacts until after the shootings.
In Texas, an hour before a memorial service for the Fort Hood victims, four FBI agents showed up at the Killeen mosque where Hasan prayed and searched a trash bin outside. The mosque president was clearly upset when he had to return from traveling to the service to sign a document handed to him by agents, apparently authorizing the search.
The FBI would not comment on what the agents were looking for at the mosque a full five days after the shooting, but motivation remains the focus.
"Obviously, the key is did he act alone," former senior FBI official Brad Garrett told ABC News. "And secondarily is, what evidence might potentially be in the dumpsters or at the mosque."
"We're concerned any time a house of worship is searched in this fashion," said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group. "And we would follow up to see if there was probable cause for the search and if it was carried out in the appropriate and legal manner."
Agents had already seized Hasan's computer in a search of this apartment last Thursday night, and all of his internet contacts and writings are under examination.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Hasan gave a PowerPoint presentation to fellow Army doctors in 2007 in which he said, "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims." He recommended that Muslim soldiers be given the option of being released from the military as conscientious objectors to decrease what he called "adverse events." Under "comments," he wrote, "We love death more than you love life."