WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal authorities had information indicating that a U.S. Army psychiatrist was a threat before the mass killings at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas but did not heed clear warning signs, according to a report by two U.S. senators released on Thursday.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States of immigrant parents, is charged in a shooting rampage that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009, at the large Army base outside Killeen, Texas.
“Although neither DoD (the U.S. Department of Defense) nor the FBI had specific information concerning the time, place or nature of the attack, they collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it,” the report stated.
The document was issued by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, an independent, and the panel’s senior Republican Senator Susan Collins.
The investigation found specific and systemic failures in the government’s handling of the case that prevented authorities from intervening against Hasan.
“The Fort Hood massacre should have been prevented,” Lieberman said in a statement. “People in the Department of Defense and the FBI had ample evidence of alleged killer Nidal Hasan’s growing sympathies toward violent Islamist extremism in the years before the attack.”
Intelligence agencies learned that Hasan had contacts with an Islamist sympathetic to al Qaeda and relayed the information to law enforcement before the Fort Hood attack, the report noted. Officials have said no action was taken.
The report identified the Islamist only as “Suspected Terrorist” and several portions of the report were redacted. But U.S. officials have said Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda figure based in Yemen.
The report said evidence of Hasan’s “radicalization to violent Islamist extremism” was on display to his superiors and colleagues during his military medical training and he was referred to as a “ticking time bomb” by two of them.
“Not only was no action taken to discharge him, but also his Officer Evaluation Reports sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism,” the report said.
Reporting by JoAnne Allen, editing by Deborah Charles and Will Dunham