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NewsNationalFort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan 'is a hero': Imam who preached to 9/11 hijackers in Va. praises attack

Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan 'is a hero': Imam who preached to 9/11 hijackers in Va. praises attack

Originally Published:Monday, November 9th 2009, 12:05 PM
Updated: Monday, November 9th 2009, 12:36 PM

The former iman at the  Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, who once preached to two of the 9/11 hijackers, praised Army Maj. Nidal Hasan...
Magana/AP
The former iman at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia, who once preached to two of the 9/11 hijackers, praised Army Maj. Nidal Hasan...
...who is accused of killing 13 in last week's rampage on Fort Hood.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
...who is accused of killing 13 in last week's rampage on Fort Hood.

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. - A Muslim imam who once preached at a suburban Washington mosque and befriended several 9/11 hijackers appeared to gloat about Army Maj. Nidal Hasan's killing spree at Fort Hood on his blog Monday.

Hasan reportedly attended services in 2001 at the massive Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia -- and his mother's funeral service was held there that year at a time when Anwar al-Awlaki was its imam.

A message posted on Awlaki's blog was titled, "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing."

"Nidal Hassan is a hero," Awlaki wrote. "He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

The blog entry surfaced on the same day as an ABC News report that American intelligence agencies knew months ago that the Fort Hood gunman had tried to contact people linked to Al Qaeda.

The Dar al-Hijrah mosque is directly across the street from a residence where a half-dozen Turkmen Muslims known as Uighurs were slated to be relocated from Guantanamo Bay, according to a law enforcement source. Lawmakers scuttled the plan.

Awlaki's blog posting was first reported by NEFA Foundation terror expert Evan Kohlmann.

Awlaki is a American who left the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks and is believed to be in Yemen -- where he is believed to have maintained Al Qaeda and Hamas affiliations.

Federal agents may be trying to connect Hasan to Awlaki.

The 9/11 commission's final report said its investigators unsuccessfully tried to locate Awlaki, who has denied meeting future hijackers Hani Hanjour and Nawaf al-Hazmi at his Falls Church mosque.

But Awlaki had also met with al-Hazmi and hijhacker Khalid al-Midhar when they all lived in San Diego. The FBI suspected the imam tasked an associate in Virginia to help the Al Qaeda operatives.

"We share that suspicion, given the remarkable coincidence of Awlaki's prior relationship with al-Hazmi," the commission said in its 2004 report.

Awlaki did not say in his blog posting whether he had known or communicated with Hasan, who killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood on Thursday -- but he referred to him repeatedly by his first name.

"Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done?" Awlaki wrote of the Army officer's "heroic act."

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