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Maj. Hasan's File Incomplete Due To FBI Mix-Up

National Security

Maj. Hasan's File Incomplete Due To FBI Mix-Up

Hear Dina Temple-Rastin's Report On 'Morning Edition'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121012705/120997334" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR has learned that investigators have identified key failings — including a mix-up at the FBI's Washington and San Diego field offices. And that may explain why the man accused in the Fort Hood shootings, Maj. Nidal Hasan, went unnoticed — despite plenty of warning signs. Investigators in Washington saw only two of 18 e-mails Hasan sent to a radical imam.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We have an update this morning on the investigation into the shootings at the Fort Hood Army Post. NPR has learned that investigators have identified failings that may explain why the man accused of the shooting went unnoticed, despite plenty of warning signs. Those shortcomings include a mix-up at two FBI field offices, one in Washington, D.C., the other in San Diego. NPR'S Dina Temple-Raston has the details.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: According to officials familiar with the investigation, the FBI's Washington field office was given Major Nidal Hasan's file to review back in February of this year. That file included two intercepted emails Hasan had written to a radical imam in Yemen. And that file sat on the FBI case officer's desk for three months.

When the agent did follow up, he didn't ask for an updated file. If had asked, he might have received 16 more recent emails Hasan had written. Those emails were never forwarded by the FBI's San Diego office. They were waiting for Washington's assessment of Hasan.

In one email the Washington FBI office never saw, Hasan mentioned the case of Sergeant Hasan Akbar. He was the Muslim solider who threw grenades at fellow troops in Kuwait at the beginning of the Iraq War. He killed two soldiers in that attack. In his email to the imam, Hasan asked whether Akbar would have been considered a shaheed, or hero, for having done this. Investigators say the email didn't raise red flags because it seemed consistent with Hasan's research at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Juan Zarate was a deputy national security advisor in the Bush administration. He says hindsight is always 20/20.

Mr. JUAN ZARATE (Former Deputy National Security Advisor): It's very difficult in the moment, I think, for analysts and agents and certainly his cohorts and coworkers to have pieced this together and to figure out they had a ticking time bomb on their hands.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Investigators also have new detail on the actual attack. Witnesses told them that Hasan could have killed the female police officer who tried to stop him. Apparently, he aimed for her head, and then changed his mind and shot her in the leg instead. Investigators say that Hasan had the opportunity to shoot people he knew, and purposely trained his weapon elsewhere. Investigators say this is part of what they see as Hasan deliberate effort to shoot soldiers, not civilians.

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News.

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