Since last December, the FBI monitored from 10 to 20 “communications” between suspected Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and an overseas terror suspect known for preaching violence and expressing sympathy for Al Qaeda, Newsweek reports. An FBI-led task force undertook an “assessment” of the Army psychiatrist as a result of those contacts, but counter-terror officials concluded that Hasan's communications with the terror suspect were “protected” by “free speech” and did not warrant opening up a criminal investigation of him.
Counter-terror officials never were told that Hasan had purchased a high-powered semi-automatic pistol on Aug. 1, just weeks after he was transferred to Fort Hood. Such gun purchases automatically trigger a federally mandated background check. Absent the information that Hasan armed himself with a Belgian made FN Herstal 5.7 pistol – a weapon gun-control groups call a “cop killer” – FBI counter-terrorism officials found there was insufficient grounds to raise additional concerns about Hassan within the government. The failure to share the data about Hasan's purchase of the gun (one of two weapons he used to kill 13 people last Thursday) is sure to provoke public debate and internal government reviews.