Hasan Attorney: No Guilty Plea But May Use Insanity Defense
by Steven Emerson
Interview on Fox News
November 23, 2009
Multimedia for this item
[Please note the video segment includes all participants in the panel on Fox News while the below transcript only covers discussion between Martha MacCallum and Steven Emerson.]
MARTHA MACCALLUM: And there are some brand new developments to tell you about in the Fort Hood massacre. Major Nidal Hasan's defense attorney, John Galligan is now saying that his client will probably plead Not Guilty and that an insanity defense is possible as his defense. Now this raises some new concerns as there is more learned about Hasan's connections to this man on the right [referring to image on screen], Anwar al-Awlaki. He's a radical Muslim cleric now living in Yemen but he was born in the United States of America. The FBI says that Major Hasan contacted him 18 times via email. Federal investigators said Awlaki responded to two of Hasan's emails. Hasan reportedly wrote to Awlaki saying, quote I can't wait to join you in the afterlife as well as quote, my strength is my financial capabilities.
Let's bring in our panel as to why an insanity plea may even be in the picture here and a little bit more about Awlaki as well. Steve Emerson is the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He's been tracking Awlaki for nearly ten years and Michael Newton is a professor of practicing law at Vanderbilt University Law School and a former international law advisor to the trial of Saddam Hussein, so both gentlemen have a lot of background in this and I want to get to as much as we can in the short time we have. So Steve, let me start with you.
It reminds me after September 11th, there were a number of people in the Intelligence community who were very well versed in the background of Osama bin Laden. They knew all about him. Awlaki is a fearful person on the scene because he is American and he has a number of connections to a lot of people who might wish us ill in this country and around the world, right?
STEVEN EMERSON: Right, Martha. First of all his CDs and his speeches have been found in the possession of at least nine convicted terrorists over the last decade in the United States and the United Kingdom. Number two, he was definitely connected to two of the 9/11 hijackers. The two of them actually followed him from San Diego in 2001 to Northern Virginia, Falls Church to a mosque called Dar al-Hijrah where Alwaki became the practicing Imam. These two hijackers became his followers. There were suspicions that Awlaki himself may have known about the 9/11 plot ahead of time and he has definitely been exhorting followers to carry out Jihad ever since he set up his website in Yemen in 2004.
MACCALLUM: Are you concerned that he could be an inspiration and even a helper to people like Hasan and maybe others out there and this is sort of a new face of what we have to be concerned about in terrorism in this country?
EMERSON: Absolutely. I think he is definitely the new face. He is a Jihadi rock star. He doesn't tell you, you know, go out and procure these weapons. He says you have to carry out Jihad. In fact one of his sermons is 44 ways to carry out Jihad, whether its by financial means or actually military means. He is an inspiration to Jihadists who are self radicalized by watching his internet videos, by listening to his speeches, by getting his writings on the websites that carry his articulations. He is very, very dangerous and he is a motivation to lots of Jihadists as we've seen through the last decade. Many, many convicted Jihadists have used him as a motivation.
MACCALLUM: And we know that Francis Townsend, formerly of the Homeland Security Department testified last week in front of Congress that Awlaki has been very much on their radar for some time and that he is somebody they are concerned about going forward and inspiring American based terrorists…
Steve Emerson, do you know if it's possible if anything good to come out of this horrible tragedy and the loss of life at Fort Hood? Could it be that it has put Awlaki more squarely on the radar and that the dots will not be missed next time when this man's name comes into play in a crime like this?
EMERSON: Well, we can hope so, but the problem really is political correctness. The fact is that Hasan got away with a lot of his murderous Jihadist ideology because so many in the military were afraid they might be sued if they brought forth his radicalness. The FBI monitored his emails and yet didn't alert the military about the fact that he was in touch with a Jihadist-
MACCALLUM: Steve, would that happen again today given what has just happened?
EMERSON: No, it wouldn't happen today. Awlaki's squarely is in the crosshairs of the FBI, the CIA and the other national defense agencies. The question is whether in fact we will take criminal action against him and there may be those who are seeking a sealed warrant against him or actually use a predator to take him out militarily as has been done against other Jihadists living in Yemen.
MACCALLUM: Fascinating. Steve, thanks for putting him more squarely in our radar and raising our understanding of what he's up to because its very important that we have a good handle on it. And Michael, thank you so much for illuminating us on some of the legal ramifications of a possible insanity plea in this case. Thank you gentleman.