Investigation Continues Into Fort Hood Shooting
|Washington, D.C. November 11, 2009|
The FBI continues to work closely with the Department of the Army in the joint, ongoing investigation into the tragic events that occurred last Thursday at Fort Hood. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families.
With respect to the investigation—the Army Criminal Investigative Division is leading a coordinated criminal investigation with the support of the FBI and other components of the Department of Justice and the Texas Rangers. The investigation is in its early stages, and the information we can provide now is limited.
With respect to what the FBI is doing—personnel from the Counterterrorism Division, Laboratory Division, and the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) are on site in support of the tragedy. The personnel deployed by the Laboratory and CIRG are specialists in crime scene analysis, evidence collection, and shooting incident reconstruction. Our victim assistance teams are working closely with their counterpart Department of Defense specialists, and we will continue to provide whatever resources are necessary to support the investigation.
At this point, there is no information to indicate Major Nidal Malik Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot. The investigation to date has not identified a motive, and a number of possibilities remain under consideration. We are working with the military to obtain, review, and analyze all information relating to Major Hasan in order to allow for a better understanding of the facts and circumstances that led to the Fort Hood shooting. Understandably, there is a large volume of information in various forms, and it will take us some time to complete this work.
There has been and continues to be a great deal of reported information about what was or might have been known to the government about Major Hasan prior to the shooting.
Major Hasan came to the attention of the FBI in December 2008 as part of an unrelated investigation being conducted by one of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). JTTFs are FBI-led, multi-agency teams made up of FBI agents, other federal investigators, including those from the Department of Defense, and state and local law enforcement officers. Such task forces are designed to bring investigators and analysts into a collaborative, information-sharing environment in order to maximize the collective impact of the respective agencies.
In this case, the JTTF included investigators and analysts from, among other agencies, the FBI and the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). Investigators on the JTTF reviewed certain communications between Major Hasan and the subject of that investigation and assessed that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Major Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning. Other communications that the FBI was aware of were similar to the ones reviewed by the JTTF.
Standard protocols—based on federal law, regulations, and policy, including the Privacy and Freedom of Information Acts—govern information handling in federal task force settings, including JTTFs. JTTF-generated information may only be disseminated outside the structure of the JTTF (including to a member’s home agency) with the approval of the JTTF FBI supervisor. In this case, following the review and analysis conducted by investigators, there was a conclusion made by the investigator and the supervisor that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or planning. Further dissemination of the information regarding Major Hasan was neither sought nor authorized.
Our top priority is to ensure that the person responsible for the Fort Hood shooting is held accountable. The ongoing investigation includes forensic examinations of Major Hasan’s computers and any Internet activity in hopes of gaining insight into his motivation. But the investigation to date indicates that the alleged gunman acted alone and was not part of a broader terrorist plot.
After meeting with the President, FBI Director Robert Mueller ordered a review of this matter to determine all of the facts and circumstances related to this tragedy and whether, with the benefit of hindsight, any policies or practices should change based on what we learn.
Again, this is a joint, ongoing criminal investigation that continues to move forward on many fronts. There is still much to learn. As a pending criminal case, the government remains limited in what information can be disclosed publicly about a U.S. citizen under investigation. As with any criminal investigation, all suspects are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty of a crime in a court of law.