Sleuths knew of US gunman's link with radical cleric

Sleuths knew of US gunman's link with radical cleric

But the federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages from the psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, did not suggest any threat of violence and concluding that no further action was warranted, government officials said on Monday.

Hasan’s 10 to 20 messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, once a spiritual leader at a mosque in suburban Virginia where Hasan worshiped, indicate that the troubled military psychiatrist came to the attention of the authorities long before last Thursday’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but that the authorities left him in his post.

Research project

Counterterrorism and military officials said on Monday night that the communications, first intercepted in last December as part of an unrelated investigation, were consistent with a research project the psychiatrist was then conducting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There was no indication that Hasan was planning an imminent attack at all, or that he was directed to do anything,” one senior investigator said.  He and the other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying the case was under investigation.

The officials said the Departments of Defence and Justice had decided that Hasan would be prosecuted in a military court, an indication that investigators believe he acted alone. Government lawyers had said that his case might be tried in civilian court if he were believed to have conspired with non-military defendants.

In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said: “At this point, there is no information to indicate that Nidal Malik Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot.”

The statement concluded that “because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else was found,” investigators decided “that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning.”

Officials said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defence Department would be reviewing their earlier assessment of Major Hasan to determine whether it was handled correctly.

Hasan regains consciousness

Houston, pti: US army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan has regained consciousness and is able to talk after days in coma. Thirty-nine-year-old Hasan, who slipped into coma after being shot by a woman police officer following his shooting spree at the Fort Hood military base on Thursday last, is conscious now, hospital sources said.

However, it is not clear yet if officials have started taking advantage of his consciousness to find out the motive behind the horrific mass killing by Hasan, who is undergoing treatment at Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio. Hasan is in stable condition and able to talk, said Dewey Mitchell, a Brooke Army Medical Centre spokesman.

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