The Army failed to properly identify the insider threat posed by the Fort Hood shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, and did not receive threat information from the FBI, according to an internal Army report on the shooting made public on Tuesday.
“Our current protection procedures fall short of synchronizing policy, establishing priorities and allocating resources to achieve the desired end state,” Army Maj. Gen. Robert M. Radin, leader of the Army Internal Review Team, said in the report. “We must efficiently and effectively transform how we look at protecting the force.”
According to the report, Maj. Hassan fired on soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009, killing 13 people and wounding 43 others, 34 by gunshot and nine by other unspecified means. Previous news reports tallied 31 wounded and noted that he shouted “Allah akbar” (“God is great”) during the shooting.
“While the response to the incident was prompt and effective, the tragedy raised questions about the DoD’s preparedness to prevent or defend against internal threats,” the report said.
The report said that Pentagon policies and procedures for identifying “indicators of violence” in personnel “are outdated, incomplete and fail to include key indicators of potentially violent behaviors.”
To fix the problem, the report recommends programs to educate troops on indicators “that signal when individuals may commit violent acts or become radicalized.”
The report also said the Army has revised its regulations on identifying internal and external threats to troops to include “additional observable indicators for espionage, terrorism and extremism.”
The statement is the closest the Army has come to referring to Fort Hood as a terrorist attack. The Army continues to refer to the attack as a “tragedy.”
The report made no mention that Maj. Hassan, who is paralyzed and awaiting a military trial, had become a radical Muslim. However, it called for “promptly” establishing standards and reporting procedures that would clarify “guidelines for religious accommodation.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, issued a statement on reports by the Army and other services made public on Tuesday, saying the reports “fall short of explaining why 13 Americans were killed over a year ago — namely that we are threatened by violent Islamist extremism and that an Army major who made public statements supportive of this murderous ideology was not stopped by his superiors.”
“It is disappointing that these final reports fail to mention violent Islamist extremism and do not offer explicit policies or procedures to make sure that service members who become radicalized to violent Islamist extremism are identified, reported, and discharged,” Mr. Lieberman said in a statement.
Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said his panel is conducting an independent probe of the attack and will soon issue its own report. He said the report will include calls for the Pentagon “to deal directly and effectively with the deadly threat that violent Islamist extremism poses to our service members.”
“As the recent terrorist plots to blow up planes with cargo bombs and murder civilians in subways show, this vicious ideology continues to threaten our security,” he said.
U.S. officials have said the FBI had indications that Maj. Hassan was in e-mail contact with al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen but that the information was not shared with the military.
The Army report said information sharing on threats between the services and other federal agencies like the FBI was inadequate.
To fix the problem the Pentagon is increasing the number of investigators and counterintelligence officials within the FBI’s 104 Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country.
“There is no formal guidance standardizing how to share [force protection] threat information across the services or combatant commands,” the report said.
Additionally, because the Pentagon does not have direct access to threat reporting on suspicious activities, it has adopted the FBI’s Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) eGuardian.
The report also called for better screening of troops before and after they deploy on missions “to include behavioral indicators that a person may commit violent acts or become radicalized.”
Additionally, the report called for the Pentagon to set policy for the military to regulate privately owned weapons on military bases.
The report said the response to the attack was good and that prior training had helped save lives.
“In an active shooter scenario, the response is action, not cordon,” the report said.
Military police also are now permitted to use hollow-point ammunition to reduce the risk of injury to bystanders.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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