Agents from San Diego’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “pestered” counterparts in Washington, D.C., to investigate the Army psychiatrist who would later become the alleged Fort Hood shooter because of his communication with a former San Diego imam who counseled Sept. 11 hijackers, federal law enforcement sources said.
To the consternation of the San Diego agents, who had intercepted about 18 to 20 e-mails between Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, the Washington Joint Terrorism Task Force determined the communications did not pose a threat and failed to act or pass information along to the military, said two sources familiar with the situation.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is secret and the e-mails are classified. The sources are not part of either task force.
What has unfolded is a blame game within the FBI pitting the San Diego office against Washington.
As an independent review of the FBI’s actions gets underway, San Diego agents are preparing to defend their handling of the communications between al-Aulaqi and Hasan, who is accused in the fatal shootings of 13 people and the wounding of dozens more on the Texas Army base Nov. 5.
“Why are they talking about something that’s classified and pointing the finger this way?” one of the sources said, referring to the Washington field office. The source added: “They’re pointing the finger this way, otherwise it’s mud on their face.”