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10 November 2009 

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US Had Previously Monitored Fort Hood Shooting Suspect

10 November 2009

Nidal Malik Hasan as a 2nd Lt. in 2000
Nidal Malik Hasan as a 2nd Lt. in 2000
U.S. officials say the army psychiatrist who allegedly killed 13 people at a U.S. military base last week had reached out to communicate with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen.

U.S. media reports citing unnamed officials Monday said intelligence agencies, including the FBI, intercepted electronic messages written by Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan to an imam known for his suspected links to terror groups.

The cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, once taught at a mosque in the U.S. state of Virginia that Hasan attended.  On Tuesday, a posting on the cleric's English-language Web site praised Hasan as a "hero" and "man of conscience."

Reports say counterterrorism officials shelved the investigation into the messages because they did not believe Hasan would engage in violence.  

Hospital officials said Hasan, who was shot by police during the rampage, is in serious condition, but awake and talking.  

Hasan is a 39-year-old psychiatrist who specialized in trauma counseling.  Reports say he was about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

His family has hired a lawyer, although no charges have been filed yet.  Investigators say he will be tried in a military court.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday at Fort Hood for the victims of the shooting. President Barack Obama, the first lady and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are expected to attend.

Hasan is accused of opening fire in a busy building on the Fort Hood military base last Thursday, killing thirteen people and wounding 30.  Investigators are trying to determine a motive for the shootings.

Some of Hasan's friends have told reporters he was concerned about the pending deployment and expressed opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There also are reports he complained about being teased by fellow soldiers because of his Muslim faith.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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