US Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, paralysed from waist down due to bullet wounds received during his shooting spree that killed 13 fellow soldiers, may have wired money to Pakistan which could lead to his possible links to militant groups there, according to two Congressmen.
Citing Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, ‘The Dallas News’ reported about 39-year-old Major Hasan’s possible connections to Pakistan.
"Republican Pete Hoekstra said sources ‘outside of the (intelligence) community’ learned about Hasan’s possible connections to the Asian country, which faces a massive Islamist insurgency and is widely believed to be Osama bin Laden’s hiding place,” the paper said. Mr. Hoekstra, the daily said, would not identify the sources.
But, it said “they are trying to follow up on it because they recognise that if there are communications - phone or money transfers with somebody in Pakistan - it just raises a whole other level of questions.”
Another Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, a member of the House Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, also said that “independent sources” had confirmed the Pakistan link, but declined any details about the source of the information.
“In addition to the e-mails to (Anwar-al-Awlaki) the Imam in Yemen, I have confirmed through independent sources that there were communications and wire transfers made to Pakistan,” Mr. McCaul said in a statement.
“This Pakistan connection just raises more red flags about this case and demonstrates why it’s important for Congress to exercise its oversight authority,” Mr. McCaul said.
The disparity between income of Hasan, who went on a shooting spree at the biggest US army base of Fort Hood, and his lifestyle has led to questions about how he spent money.
As a Major with over 12 years of service, Hasan earned about USD 92,000 a year, but rented a USD350-a-month apartment in a rundown neighbourhood and drove a 2006 Honda Civic.
Investigating agencies have traced his links to Muslim fundamentalists, including his emails to Al-Awlaki, a radical cleric in Yemen who formerly served as Imam of a large northern Virginia mosque where Hasan worshipped. Al-Awlaki has praised Hasan after the massacre as “a hero” on his website.
Matthew Levitt, Director of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told ‘The Dallas News’ that 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 does not involve paperwork, the daily said.
“If it turns out the person was radicalised to the point he was sending money to other insurgents or other terrorists, that takes it to another level still,” Mr. Levitt said.
Meanwhile, Hasan’s lawyer, John Galligan, said his client was paralysed from the waist down as a result of his bullet wounds.
Calling his client’s condition “extremely serious”, Mr. Galligan said Hasan does have some feeling in his hands and is in “significant pain” from his injuries.
Asked whether Hasan expressed remorse, Mr. Galligan said: “We didn’t get into that.”
Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. Mr. Galligan said prosecutors have not yet told him whether they plan to seek the death penalty.
Hasan, who is being investigated for links to militants for the fatal shootings of 12 soldiers and one civilian, will be tried in a military court. Further charges are expected.
The army psychiatrist was shot several times after he allegedly opened fire on a crowd of his fellow soldiers. More than 100 bullets were fired and 42 people were injured, apart from the 13 killed.