The recent tragedy at Fort Hood has reopened a very interesting subject that has never been resolved, or even thoroughly investigated: the relationships of al Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers to the radical Islamic community in the United States.
Nidal Malik Hasan is an ethnic Palestinian born and raised in Virginia (AKA Northern Virginiastan). He attended the notorious Dar al-Hijra mosque in Falls Church, VA (AKA Falls al-Church) at the same time as at least two 9/11 hijackers, while the even-more-notorious Anwar al-Awlaki was the Imam there.
These facts are all over the internet, but the real significance behind them has not been published anywhere that I've seen yet. Of course the MSM's reflexive denial of the role radical Islam played in yet another terrorist act is almost a cliche at this point, but it really looks like this guy may have had some pretty explosive connections.
The 9/11 hijackers who attended Dar al Hijra were Hani Hanjour, Nawaf al-Hazmi, and probably Khalid al-Midhar. For the uninitiated, Hanjour, al-Hazmi, and al-Midhar were all aboard American Flight 77 when it struck the Pentagon.
Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar were the only 9/11 hijackers who attended the al Qaeda Kuala Lumpur summit meeting in January 2000, where key decisions related to both the Cole bombing and the 9/11 attacks (along with other al Qaeda operations) were apparently made. What that means is that they were not just stupid "muscle" hijackers but rather veteran al Qaeda operatives around whom Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed originally organized the 9/11 attacks. They were famous for their relationship with Omar al-Bayoumi, the Los Angeles station manager for Dallah Avco, the charter airline that belongs to Saudi billionaire Saleh Kamel. It was also al Midhar and al Hazmi, you may or may not recall, who were the receipients of mysterious checks sent from Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar's wife Princess Haifa in the months before 9/11.
This is a very complex story that is worth a number of blog posts, although I doubt I'll have the time to do the story the justice it deserves. What is important to understand is the nature of the "al Qaeda affiliated movement" (or AQAM as it is known to acronym-happy bureaucrats) and the role of the Saudi-funded and directed global network of Wahhabist mosques and Islamic centers.
Dar al Hijra in Virginia is part of the so-called "Wahhabi Corridor" in Northern Virginiastan, an area of greater concentration of connections to al Qaeda terror than any place outside Afghanistan. It was founded with Saudi money and influence in 1983, during the great Saudi Islamic and Wahhabist outreach movement that sponsored the construction of over 80% of the mosques in the world today. That movement was an explicit policy of the Saudi kingdom to radicalize Islam worldwide - and it largely succeeded. Almost all Sunni terrorism traces its ideological roots to the Saudis' Wahhabist missions, and apparently Nidal Hassan is just the latest example.
The big question now - as his influence by Saudi-sponsored Salafist-Wahhabist proselytizing by radicals such as Anwar al-Awlaki seems beyond dispute - is whether his connections to al Qaeda or even the 9/11 hijackers are more than coincidental.
To determine the answer to that question, we probably have to look farther back - to well before 9/11, and take a much closer look at the global network of Saudi-sponsored Salafist organizations.
As early as 1991, the Saudi government sponsored a program to convert US military servicemembers to Islam and recruit them for jihad. This effort later evolved into the program that sought to train and commission muslim chaplains in the US armed forces. The original conversion effort was directed by radical Islamist (and unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) Bilal Philips on US bases in Saudi Arabia and the chaplain program was run by convicted al Qaeda financier Abdulrahman Alamoudi.
These efforts had varied results over the years. One overt result was the 1993 "Landmarks" al Qaeda plot, for which al Qaeda recruit and former US military member Clement Hampton-El was convicted. Hampton-El told a very interesting story of meeting members of the Saudi royal family (apparently Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki, who died under very mysterious circumstances shortly after 9/11) as part of an effort to recruit more former US servicemembers to wage jihad in Bosnia. Later this strategy involved famous al Qaeda double agent Ali Mohamed, who was associated with practically everyone else in this post.
So maybe we won't find a "smoking gun" connection between Nidal Hasan and al Qaeda (although I wouldn't bet on it), but he clearly was influenced by the same religious and political themes that define the "al Qaeda associated movement". Clearly a lot of people failed in their obligations to heed the ample warning signs this guy sent up. More importantly now, what will we do to determine how many other Nidal Hassans are out there looking for the right opportunity or motivation to act?