Imam says he didn't pressure Hasan

Published November 16, 2009 1:01PM (EST)

The radical Muslim imam who communicated with the Fort Hood shooting suspect said he did not pressure Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to harm Americans, The Washington Post reported Monday.

In an interview with a Yemeni journalist who was contracted by the Post, imam Anwar al-Awlaki said Hasan first e-mailed him in December 2008. Eventually, al-Awlaki said, Hasan came to view him as a confidant.

Al-Awlaki showed the journalist his correspondence with Hasan but would not provide it to the Post. He said Hasan questioned the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said the Army psychiatrist cited Islamic law that demanded "that what America was doing should be confronted."

"So Nidal was providing evidence to Anwar, not vice versa," said the Yemeni reporter, Abdulelah Hider Shaea.

Hasan, 39, was charged last Thursday with the Nov. 5 shooting spree at Fort Hood, in which 13 people were killed.

The imam told Shaea that the Fort Hood attack was acceptable under Islam. "America was the one who first brought the battle to Muslim countries," al-Awlaki said.

Al-Awlaki also denounced Muslims who condemned the attack. "They say American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan should be killed," the imam argued, "so how can they say the American soldier should not be killed at the moment they are going to Iraq and Afghanistan?"

By Associated Press

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