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Nov 9, 2009 11:45 AM by Associated Press

Imam tied to 9/11 hijackers praises Hasan

The personal Web site for a radical American imam living in Yemen who had contact with two 9/11 hijackers is praising alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a hero.

The posting Monday on the Web site for Anwar al Awlaki, who was a spiritual leader at two mosques where three 9/11 hijackers worshipped, said American Muslims who condemned the attacks on the Texas military base last week are hypocrites who have committed treason against their religion.

Two U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press the Web site was Awlaki's. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence collection.

Awlaki said in the Web site posting that the only way a Muslim can justify serving in the U.S. military is if he intends to "follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal."

Hasan, wounded in the shootings, in which he's accused of killing 13 and wounding 29, is conscious and able to talk, a U.S. Army hospital spokesman said Monday.

Dewey Mitchell, a spokesman at Brooke Army Medical Center, said Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan remains in stable condition. Mitchell says Hasan has been awake and able to talk since he was taken off a ventilator Saturday.

Brooke Medical Center is in San Antonio, about 150 miles southwest of Fort Hood.

Hassan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when Awlaki preached there.

Whether he associated with the hijackers is something the FBI will probably look into, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Hasan held his mother's funeral at the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., on May 31, 2001, according to her obituary in the Roanoke Times newspaper.

At the time, Awlaki was an imam, or spiritual leader, at the Washington-area mosque. Awlaki told the FBI in 2001 that, before he moved to Virginia in early 2001, he met with 9/11 hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi several times in San Diego. Al-Hazmi was at the time living with Khalid al-Mihdhar, another hijacker. Al-Hazmi and another hijacker, Hani Hanjour, attended the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Virginia in early April 2001.

In his FBI interview, Aulaqi denied ever meeting with al-Hazmi and Hanjour while in Virginia.

Awlaki, a native-born U.S. citizen, left the United States in 2002, eventually traveling to Yemen. He was investigated by the FBI in 1999 and 2000 after it was learned that he may have been contacted by a possible procurement agent for Osama bin Laden. During this investigation, the FBI learned that Awlaki knew people involved in raising money for Hamas, a Palestinian group on the U.S. State Department's terrorist list.


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Shaker Elsayed, the current imam at Dar Al Hijrah, declined to comment when reached Sunday by The Associated Press.

Faizul Khan, former imam of the Muslim Community Center in nearby Silver Spring, Md., where Hasan also worshipped, said he was not aware that Hasan had attended services at Dar al Hijrah but said it would not be unusual for Hasan to attend more than one mosque concurrently.

Khan said he did not recall Hasan mentioning having been taught or preached to by Aulaqi.

The London Telegraph first reported the potential link between Hasan and the mosque.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said Sunday it's important for the country not to get caught up in speculation about Hasan's Muslim faith, and he has instructed his commanders to be on the lookout for anti-Muslim reaction to the killings at the Texas post.

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He says focusing on the Islamic roots of the suspected shooter could "heighten the backlash" against all Muslims in the military.

Casey says diversity in the military "gives us strength."

Casey declined to answer questions about the investigation into the shooting, but said evidence to this point shows that Hasan acted alone. He toured Fort Hood on Friday with Army Secretary John McHugh.

 

 

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