FBI Director James Comey testified Wednesday that he believes the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas was inspired by al-Qaeda.
Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire on his fellow servicemen and women on November 5, 2009, killing 13 and injuring 30 others. He was shot and paralyzed from the waist down in the resulting hail of gunfire, and was sentenced to death in 2013.
The federal government has termed the attack an incidence of ‘workplace violence,’ saying that the home-grown Hasan didn’t meet the legal definition of an international terrorist.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, however, elicited the first confirmation from the Obama administration that the ‘terror’ label might apply.
‘In your opening statement you mentioned al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism,’ Cornyn said during a Judiciary Committee hearing, ‘and I know you’re familiar, if not specifically, generally with the facts of the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas, when Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people, injured a couple dozen plus more.’
‘Do you agree with the intelligence community’s assessment that Hasan was inspired by Al Qaeda to conduct that attack?’ he asked.
‘Yes, sir,;’ Comey replied. ‘Based on everything I’ve read – again, I wasn’t in office at the time – but I’ve read about it since, and I do.’
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about whether the administration stands by its ‘workplace violence’ determination.
Because the shooting wasn’t considered a terror attack, victims and their families haven’t received the same benefits and payments as they would have on the battlefield or in an al-Qaeda strike in the Middle East.
Cornyn introduced legislation last year that would ‘correct this inequity,’ according to a statement his office released on Wednesday.
Hasan was prosecuted under murder statutes, not terrorism laws, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies knew he was associating with Islamist terror suspects including Anwar al-Awlaki, whom the U.S. killed in a 2011 drone strike.
In one of 18 emails to the terror ringleader that American agents intercepted in 2008 and 2009, Hasan indicated his intentions.
‘I can’t wait to join you’ in the afterlife,’ he wrote.