A radical imam who was investigated by the FBI for his ties to the 9/11 hijackers has posted an Internet message praising Nidal Hasan -- the suspect in the Fort Hood shootings -- as a "hero" who performed his "Islamic duty" by killing American soldiers.
"Nidal Hasan is a hero," Anwar al Awlaki, the spiritual leader of a Falls Church, Va., mosque that Hasan once attended and who now lives in Yemen, wrote on his website, Anwar-Alwaki.com.
He continued: "The fact that fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims."
The posting on Awlaki's website was discovered around midnight Monday by Evan Kohlmann, a veteran terror researcher and U.S. government consultant, who works for the NEFA Foundation, a New York-based group that tracks Internet postings by radical Islamic groups around the world. It came just as U.S. news organizations were reporting that the FBI was investigating possible connectiosn between Hasan and Awlaki, who according to the 9/11 Commission report had provided advice to two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdar and Nawaf Alhazmi.
"It was jaw dropping," Kohlmann told Declassified. Ever since he moved to Yemen several years ago, Awlaki has been a "central figure" whose name has popped up as an inspirational figure in numerous "home grown" terrorism cases in the United States and Britain, he added.
Although the message does not indicate that Awlaki actually knows Hasan, he ends his posting with what seems a personal message: "May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance and steadfastness and we ask Allah to accept from his his great heroic act."