The Army major suspected in the slaughter at Fort Hood reached out to a radical Muslim imam overseas -- a cleric whose teachings had served as inspiration to the local Fort Dix terrorists, law enforcement and congressional sources tell NBCNew York.com.
That email traffic between Army psychologist Nidal Hasan and that overseas imam was monitored by U.S. intelligence at the time, investigators said.
Hasan allegedly sent emails to Imam Anwar Aulaqi in Yemen months before last week's rampage that left 13 dead and dozens more injured. Aulaqi's website is now praising the attack. Aulaqi had preached at Virginia and San Diego mosques attended by several of the 9-11 hijackers but was never charged with any crime. He later moved to Yemen where he engaged in radical preaching.
Imam Aulaqi is American born and left for Yemen in 2002. He issued "Constants on the Path of Jihad" where he preaches Jihad should be violent against non-believers, that Jihad is a duty of all Muslims and that whatever the location, Jihad should be waged. Investigators said his teachings were downloaded and studied by several of the home-grown terrorists who were plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at New Jersey's Fort Dix.
Congressional officials are now calling for an investigation as to whether the email contact between Hasan and the Imam were shared with law enforcement and Army officials. Officials said the Army was notified about the communication but no action was taken.
"This would be the same as if during World War II an Army major were involved in a telephone conversation with a close associate of Adolf Hitler overseas," said Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. "If you are an officer in United States army and you are dealing with someone who has very close links to terrorism and we are at war with Islamic terrorism ... that to me is as serious an offense as you can have."
Some investigators said the communication between Hasan and the Imam was not a clear sign that Hasan was considering some sort of attack. Sources tell NBC news the emails between the two were not threatening in nature.
At Fort Hood and in Virginia where he had served, Hasan's associates said the major often complained about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And At the Falls Church, Virginia mosque, leaders there denounced both the Imam and Hasan. "We offer no justification for his ungodly and heinous, cowardly act of violence," Imam Johari Abdul-Malik said.
Army officials said Hasan is now conscious and talking. Congressional officials said they could begin holding hearings on the shooting incident as early as next week.