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>Authorities examine possible financial links between Pakistan, Fort Hood shootings suspect

>12:00 AM CST on Thursday, November 12, 2009
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News

Mystery of money

Hasan’s finances have been a mystery since last week, when the Army major and psychiatrist allegedly shot and killed 13 colleagues at the sprawling Central Texas military base. Hasan earned more than $90,000 a year and had no dependents, yet lived in an aging one-bedroom apartment that rented for about $300 a month.

“You can bet there is an ongoing, extensive investigation into every single financial transaction he made,” said Matt Orwig, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas who has no direct knowledge of the Hasan case. “Federal investigative agencies are very good at tracing the flow of money, both to him and from him.”

Authorities know that Hasan sent repeated e-mails, starting some time in December 2008, to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen. That cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, formerly served as imam of a large northern Virginia mosque where Hasan worshipped. The U.S.-born cleric praised Hasan after the massacre as “a hero.”

In January, al-Awlaki told readers of his blog about “44 ways to support jihad” – a term often translated as “holy war.” Many of his points dealt with ways to fund such efforts.

“Probably the most important contribution the Muslims of the West could do for Jihad is making Jihad with their wealth,” al-Awlaki wrote. “In many cases the mujahideen are in need of money more than they are in need of men.”

He also stressed the importance of “avoiding the life of luxury.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department referred questions Wednesday to the FBI, which didn’t return a message seeking comment. FBI officials have said they studied Hasan’s communications with an unnamed radical Muslim and concluded they were a harmless part of his academic research.

Hoekstra said he wants to know whether authorities knew about Hasan’s behavior when they decided his contacts with the Yemeni imam were essentially harmless.

“The conclusion based off just the e-mails might have been perfectly legitimate,” Hoekstra said. “But if the [terrorism] analyst for some reason didn’t have access to all this other information, that might be where the problem is.”

Hard trail to follow?

Matthew Levitt, director of counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said wire transfers to Pakistan would be “extremely significant in terms of a potential network for this particular case.”

Tracing money to Pakistan could be easy if Hasan used a formal bank or wire service. It would be more difficult if he sent money under another name or used an informal channel known as hawala that is popular in Pakistan and doesn’t involve paperwork.

“If it turns out the person was radicalized to the point he was sending money to other insurgents or other terrorists, that takes it to another level still,” Levitt said.

Staff writers Brooks Egerton and Jim Landers contributed to this report.

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