Thu February 3, 2011
Report: 2009 Fort Hood Massacre Could Have Been Prevented
A new report issued today by two US Senators says the FBI and military officials repeatedly ignored signs that Nidal Hasan was a "ticking time bomb". Hasan is facing court martial over the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, an army post 90 minutes from Austin, during which a gunman entered a soldier readiness center and killed thirteen people. Dozens were wounded.
The report released today, A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons From The U.S. Government's Failure To Prevent The Fort Hood Attack, was put together by US Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The report says both the FBI and the Department of Defense had information on Hasan's "radicalization to violent Islamic extremism," but failed to connected the dots. These are the three primary failures highlighted in the report.
Evidence of Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism was on full display to his superiors and colleagues during his military medical training. An instructor and a colleague each referred to Hasan as a "ticking time bomb." Not only was no action taken to discipline or discharge him, but also his Officer Evaluation Reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism.
FB I Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTfFs) are units in FBI field offices that conduct counterterrori sm investigations and are staffed by FBI agents and employees from other federa l, state, and local agencies. A JTTF learned that Hasan was communicating with the Suspected Terrorist, flagged Hasan's initial [REDACTED] communications for further review, and passed them to a second JTTF for an inquiry. However, the ensuing inquiry failed to identify the totality of Hasan's communications and to inform Hasan's military chain of command and Army security officials of the fact that he was communicating with a suspected violent Islamist extremist - a shocking course of conduct for a U.S. military officer. Instead, the JTTF inquiry relied on Hasan's erroneous Officer Evaluation Reports and ultimately dismissed his communications as legitimate research.
The JTTF that had reviewed the initial [REDACTED] communications dismissed the second JTTF's work as "slim" but eventually dropped the matter rather than cause a bureaucratic confrontation. The JTTFs now even dispute the extent to which they were in contact with each other in this case. Nonetheless, the JTTFs never raised the dispute to FBI headquarters for resolution, and entities in FBI headquarters responsible for coordination among field offices never acted. As a result, the FBI's inquiry into Hasan ended premature!
The report goes on to specify recommendations to prevent that from happening again, and urges the Department of Defense to "confront the threat of radicalization to violent Islamic extremism among service members."
Read the report for yourself here.