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Fort Hood shooter may have had financial links to Pakistan

world Updated: Nov 14, 2009 10:49 IST
Fort Hood

US army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of gunning down 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, military base had financial dealings in Pakistan, a US lawmaker has charged and called for investigation.

Media reports cited Michael McCaul, top Republican on the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives, as saying Hasan made or received wire transfers to the country.

"He may have friends or relatives or whatever and this could be totally (innocent)," McCaul was quoted as saying. "But if he is wiring money to Pakistan, that could be terrorist financing. If he was receiving money from Pakistan, that is more significant."

McCaul said he does not know the direction of the transfers and communications, only that they passed between Hasan and Pakistan. He said the lack of additional information is why Congress should launch an investigation.

Hasan, 39, was wounded during the Nov 5 attack in Fort Hood and immediately taken into custody. Hasan has since been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. It isn't yet known if he could face the death penalty if a guilty verdict is delivered.

Meanwhile, Tom Ridge, the former US Homeland Security secretary, has said he suspects that the shooting spree was terror-related, and is not convinced about notion that the attack was related to combat stress.

He told a TV channel that as in several previous state-side tragedies, it may well turn out that US authorities had enough information at their fingertips to identify "a very, very serious problem".

"I guess, we are going to go, just as we did after September 11, 2001, just after we did after the horrible tragedy of Virginia Tech, we all have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight," Ridge told CTV's Canada AM Friday.

"But once again, it appears that there were different pieces of information, different observations, different investigations that had an individual or individuals collected them all together, would have pointed out that they had a very, very serious problem," he said.

Ridge said investigators will be looking to determine if any clues were missed and how information was being shared between different branches of law enforcement.

"One of the challenges of the upcoming investigation is to really determine who knew what, when did they know it, and with whom did they share it," he said.

The questions over Hasan's alleged financial dealings in Pakistan are underscored by reports that the army major rented a modest apartment, which cost only $350 per month. He also drove a 2006 Honda and lived frugally.

However, Hasan likely earned $92,000 in basic salary per year and was eligible for a living allowance of about $16,000 per year. He may have also qualified for a $20,000 yearly incentive payout.