Tens of Thousands in Contact With Terror Imam
Feds say number of Awlaki contacts made it hard to join the dots
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2010 5:18 AM CST
Accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan exchanged dozens of emails with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.   (AP Photo/Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, File)
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(Newser) – The accused Fort Hood shooter was just one of tens of thousands who have been in email contact with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to intelligence sources. Spy agencies analyzing huge amounts of raw intelligence following the Fort Hood killings made identifying the US-born, Yemen-based preacher's American contacts a priority. Detroit terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is suspected of being one of Awlaki's email "pen pals."

But the sheer volume of intelligence involved highlights the difficulty in "joining the dots" to foil terror plots, they say. "As the White House itself has noted, there was no clear link between Awlaki and Abdulmutallab. That was the problem," one security official tells Newsweek. "When you know the answer, as everyone does now, you can go back and draw connections that were, at the time, anything but apparent."