Report downplays Islamic role in Fort Hood jihadi attack

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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No government officials should be penalized for their inaction while they watched an online al-Qaida organizer persuade U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to murder twelve of his fellow soldiers at Foot Hood in 2009, says the final report of an independent panel.

“Although we are critical of certain actions and omissions, we do not regard any of those actions to be misconduct that would warrant administrative or disciplinary action,” said the third-last paragraph on the 150-page report, titled “Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission.”

“Some missteps occurred because there was no stated policy or binding directive in place that would have required different actions … [but] absent formal policy guidance on the assignment and resolution of Routine leads, the delay cannot be said to involve misconduct,” said the paragraph.

The report was overseen by William Webster, who headed the FBI from 1978 to 1987.

The report was distributed July 20 with the announcement that Republican Rep. Frank Wolfe will hold a August 1 committee hearing on the report. The witness will include an FBI official, Mark Giuliano, who is the executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.

The report says Hasan yelled the Islamic war-cry — “Allahu akbar!” which means “Allah is supreme” — as he shot his fellow Americans in Fort Hood.

On his business card, Hasan described himself as a “soldier of Allah,” who is the Muslim god.

In place of Islamic texts, the report blames Hasan’s self-described religious motivation on a non-religious psychological process of “violent radicalization.”

On page seven, the report declares that “most terrorists are psychologically normal as individuals, and do not fit a medical diagnostic category.” However, the report argues that “radicalization occurs when followers submit to the collective identity and leaders identify a shared enemy as a target for violent behavior.”

The report did not treat Islamic radicalization as a subset of radicalization amid the many jihadi attacks on U.S. civilians and soldiers, but instead lumped it under a very broad category of “radicalization.”

“Radicalization — whether based on religious, political, social, or other causes — challenges the capability and capacity of the FBI and other members of the U.S. Intelligence Community to identify, collect, analyze, and act on accurate intelligence in time to detect and deter those who would commit violence,” says the report.

To combat “radicalization,” the report urges the FBI to increase information sharing, buy better computers and better protect suspects’ privacy.

After dismissing Islamic religious motivations, the report quotes Hasan’s letters about Islamic edicts to the American-born al-Qaida organizer, Anwar al-Awlaki.

In January, 2009, Hasan cited one verse in a letter to al-Awlaki, as saying, “The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrongdoing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land defying right and justice: for such there will be a Penalty grievous.”

In orthodox Islam, the text in the Quran is deemed to be the dictated word of Allah.

In May 2009, Hasan cited another Quranic text, which said, “Whoever from among you turns back from his religion [of Islam] … will bring a people [who are] stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of [Allah] and … never fear of the blame of the blamers.”

Al-Awlaki was killed by a drone-launched missile in 2011, likely with the personal approval of President Barack Obama.

In contrast, the Webster report recommends FBI officials further tighten FBI agents’ consideration of Islamic texts when conducting investigations.

“We recommend [officials] conduct compliance reviews and audits on a regular basis as experience indicates is necessary to ensure FBI compliance with all policies applicable to … race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion as a basis for investigative activity.”

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Neil Munro