Factcheck: Did Nidal Hasan contact Al Qaeda?
Gawker goes after ABC's Brian Ross for claiming that the Fort Hood shooter was in contact with Al Qaeda and possibly a tool of the terrorist group. Even though the only evidence of this is that he contacted a Muslim Imam in Virginia, al-Awlaki, who is less a terrorist and more a fundamentalist Muslim version of Glenn Beck.
We were confused this morning, because Ross had clearly reported that Hasan had made contact with "people associated with Al Qaeda," and the only contacts that other reporters were confirming were with al-Awlaki, who is, as far as we know, a single person. We called Ross and asked him if there were more "people." No, he told us, his initial report was only in reference to al-Awlaki.
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A strange use, indeed. How about false, too? Especially because Ross' original story did, in fact, report that al-Awliki was among the "people" Hasan was suspected of having contacted. So he reported that Hasan contacted more than one person associated with al Qaeda, and then named one person that he was suspected of contacting. What he apparently didn't bother to do was "pin his sources down" on exactly what they were saying. The result was a clear suggestion that Hasan had tried to communicate with the al Qaeda network on more than one occasion.
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We asked Ross if he had tried to contact Al-Awlaki in reporting the story:
So you reached out to al Qaeda, then?
"To al Qaeda? No. I reached out to him. Oh. I see what you're saying."