A Texas congressman said Thursday he has confirmed that Fort
Hood massacre suspect Nidal Malik Hasan wired money to Pakistan, a South Asian
country that Muslim extremist groups use as a base to raise funds and carry out
Rep. Michael McCaul’s statement followed a Dallas Morning
News report that authorities were looking into whether such wire transfers had
“I have confirmed through independent sources that
there were communications and wire transfers made to Pakistan,” McCaul
said in a statement provided by his spokesman. “This Pakistan connection
just raises more red flags about this case and demonstrates why it’s important
for Congress to exercise its oversight authority.”
The spokesman, Mike Rosen, said McCaul wouldn’t name his
sources. The congressman’s statement didn’t address who Hasan’s contacts in
Pakistan were, when he communicated with them and how much money he sent.
McCaul is the top Republican on the House Homeland Security
Committee’s intelligence subcommittee. He typically is briefed on classified
material but had yet to be formally briefed on the Fort Hood killings.
He “has been actively seeking information from as many
credible sources as possible,” Rosen said. “It has been more
difficult than usual to obtain information from our intelligence
Asked about McCaul’s comments, an FBI spokesman in
Washington said he couldn’t comment on any aspect of the investigation.
Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert who has consulted with the
FBI and Defense Department, noted that Hasan is a U.S. citizen of Palestinian
descent, with no known family ties to Pakistan. That leaves only two reasons,
he said, for the psychiatrist to wire money to the South Asian country: to
support charity or to support jihad.
Westerners who want to give to a legitimate Pakistani
charity typically would do so by putting money in a U.S. or British bank
account, he added.
“It raises huge alarm bells,” Kohlmann said of
Hasan’s reported wire transfers.
Pakistan borders Afghanistan, the country to which Hasan was
supposed to deploy soon. Pakistan is battling an Islamist insurgency and is
widely believed to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden.
Dennis Lormel, a former FBI special agent who directed the
agency’s efforts to identify sources of terrorist financing, said investigators
would take note of the large amount of disposable income Hasan apparently had.
He made more than $90,000 a year, had no wife or dependents, and paid about
$300 a month for a tiny apartment.
“It seems like there is a lifestyle that was beneath
his means,” said Lormel, now a managing director for IPSA International, a
consultant to banks on combating money laundering. “Where is the money
Lormel said Hasan could have used several different channels
to wire money abroad, including remittance services that cater to immigrant
workers who send money to their native countries. If that were the case, there
may be documentation of the transaction, Lormel and others said.
Banks and other money transmitters must tell the Treasury
Department if an individual sends more than $10,000 outside the country.
Kohlmann said only a “breakdown” could explain the
FBI’s failure to dig deeper when it discovered late last year that Hasan was
communicating by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric in Yemen. The
U.S.-born imam exhorted Western Muslims in January to practice jihad — often
translated as “holy war” — by donating money.
Al-Awlaki worked several years ago at a northern Virginia
mosque that Hasan and some of the 9-11 hijackers attended. Federal authorities
have investigated the cleric’s ties to terrorists since the 1990s but never
brought charges against him.
“Everybody at the FBI knows who Anwar al-Awlaki
is,” Kohlmann said. “In the world of jihadis, this guy is Bruce
After the Fort Hood massacre, the cleric said on his blog
that Hasan was “a hero.”
FBI officials have said they didn’t pursue Hasan last year
because his e-mails were consistent with research he was doing. At the time, he
lived in the Washington area while serving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
and doing a fellowship at Uniformed Services University of the Armed Services.
The White House said Thursday that President Barack Obama
has ordered a review of all intelligence related to Hasan and whether it was
properly shared and acted upon. The review will be overseen by John Brennan,
assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Initial
results are due Nov. 30.
Members of Congress, particularly Rep. Peter Hoekstra of
Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, have called
for a full examination of what agencies knew about Hasan’s contacts with
al-Awlaki and other radicals.
Hoekstra told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that he
heard from sources “outside of the (intelligence) community” that
Hasan might have contacts in Pakistan.
Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.