FBI Report on the Events at Ft. Hood, Texas

President and First Lady at the Fort Hood Memorial Service

William H. Webster recently delivered to the FBI the “Final Report of the William H. Webster Commission on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the Events at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 9, 2009.” The unclassified version of this report can be read here.

The report examines the way in which the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Forces responded to intelligence before and after the tragedy at Fort Hood, in which Major Nidal Hasan murdered thirteen people and wounded over forty others at the base’s deployment center on November 5, 2009.

“The Fort Hood shootings are a grim reminder that violent radicalization is a persistent threat to the United States and its citizens and residents. Radicalization – whether based on religious, political, social, or other causes – challenges the capability and capacity of the FBI and other members of the U.S. Intelligence Community to identify, collect, analyze, and act on accurate intelligence in time to detect and deter those who would commit violence.”

“Nidal Malik Hasan’s transformation into a killer underscores the dilemma confronting the FBI. Hasan was a licensed psychiatrist and a U.S. Army Major with fifteen years of military service. He was a member of two professional communities – mental health and defense – whose missions include protection against violence. He worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other facilities in close and constant contact with other U.S. military personnel, including fellow psychiatrists. He was a religious person. He had no known foreign travel. Other than his eighteen communications with Anwar al-Aulaqi, he had no known contact and no known relationships with criminal elements, agents of foreign powers, or potential terrorists.”

“This Report considers a myriad of factors that affect the FBI’s ability to detect – and, when legally possible, deter and disrupt – the violent radicalization of U.S persons. These factors include the FBI’s legal authority, written and informal policies, operational capability and capacity, access to information, and technology.”

For the investigation, the FBI and the Department of Justice “provided the commission with more than 100 formal and informal interviews, meetings, and briefings, and more than 10,000 pages of documents. The commission also consulted with outside experts on counterterrorism and intelligence operations, information technology, and violent extremism; public interest groups; and staff from congressional committees with responsibility for oversight of the FBI.” The report provides 18 recommendations to the FBI “for corrective and enhancing measures regarding FBI policy and operations, information technology, and training.”

At the memorial service held on November 10, 2009, President Obama remarked:“This is a time of war. Yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great state and the heart of this great American community. This is the fact that makes the tragedy even more painful, even more incomprehensible.

For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that’s been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers. But here is what you must also know: Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life’s work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is their legacy. Neither this country — nor the values upon which we were founded — could exist without men and women like these 13 Americans. And that is why we must pay tribute to their stories.”

The HSDL has various documents related to the threat of homegrown terrorism and radicalization as well as to intelligence and counterterrorism. Below are a few of the documents you will find in our collection.

What’s the Big Idea? Confronting the Ideology of Islamist Extremism

Lone Wolf and His Pack: Friends and Colleagues are Our Best Pointers to an Extremist

Countering Terrorism and Radicalization in 2010 and Beyond: A New Terrorist Threat? Assessing ‘Homegrown Extremism’

Counterterrorism Intelligence: Law Enforcement Perspectives

To read the press release and the FBI’s response to the report’s recommendations, click here

To read the transmission letter from William H. Webster, click here

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/s_4589