Carry out intelligence review of Fort Hood killer: Obama

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : US President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the way intelligence agencies handled information related to an army major accused of carrying out the Fort Hood massacre, even as the accused was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.

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Obama’s move Thursday came after US intelligence authorities revealed that they knew suspect Maj Nidal Malik Hasan had been in contact with a cleric sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Obama’s order seeks an immediate inventory of all intelligence in US government files that existed prior to the Nov 6 shootings and an immediate review to determine how any such intelligence was handled, shared, and acted upon within individual departments and agencies and what intelligence was shared with others.

The charges against Hasan, 39, who was shot by police and remains in hospital were filed in a military rather than civilian court because Hasan remains an active-duty serviceman. All the charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.

They come as investigators are continuing to probe the shooting, spokesman Christopher Grey said. “We are looking at every possible angle on this case,” Grey said adding that investigators still believe Hasan acted alone.

His attorney has said he will push for a change of venue because public opinion here is so hardened against his client, a devout Muslim who was about to deploy to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, ABC News reported that Hasan called himself a “Soldier of Allah” on private business cards he obtained over the internet and kept in a box at his apartment in Killeen.

Underneath his name he listed himself as SoA (SWT), the report said. SoA is commonly used on radical web sites as the acronym for Soldier of Allah, according to investigators and experts, SWT is commonly used by Muslims as an acronym for Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, Glory to God, ABC said.

According to CNN those who knew Nidal Malik Hasan before he was a major in the army say he was long known for militant Islamist views. Doctors who crossed paths with Hasan in medical programmes paint a picture of a subpar student who wore his religious views on his sleeve.

Hasan “was clearly espousing Islamist ideology” during his time as a medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, one of his former classmates told CNN.

Hasan’s family has revealed little about him, saying in media interviews that Hasan was a “good American” and a lifelong Muslim who complained he was harassed in the Army because of his religion.

His former classmates describe a much more militant Hasan. His presentations for school were often laced with extremist Muslim views, one source cited by CNN said. Another recalled an instance in which Hasan was asked if the US constitution was a brilliant document. Hasan replied: “No, not particularly.”