In testimony on Nov. 19, Keane acknowledged that the army refused to
draft guidelines on how to deal with Islamist recruits who preached war
against the West, Middle East Newsline reported. He said this failure, fostered by the fear of political
and legal repercussions, enabled a Muslim officer to plan an attack in Fort
Hood, Texas, the largest army base in the world, in which 13 people were
"There is no doubt in my mind that was operating here," Keane, who
retired in 2003, said.
Hours after Keane's testimony, the Defense Department said it would
launch an investigation into Al Qaida influence in the military. Officials
acknowledged that the military had failed to track Islamist recruitment or
even determine the number of Muslims in the armed forces.
"The shootings at Fort Hood raise a number of troubling questions that
demand complete but prompt answers," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
"It is prudent to determine immediately whether there are internal
weaknesses or procedural shortcomings in the department that could make us
vulnerable in the future."
The Senate committee was told by former military commanders and
officials of a reluctance to investigate the alleged shooter at Fort Hood,
Maj. Nidal Hassan. They said without clear military policy any investigation
of Hassan or other Al Qaida supporters in the military could have been
regarded as discrimination of Muslims.
"You take some of this burden away from people by having those
guidelines," Keane said.
President Barack Obama has warned against identifying Hassan as an
On Nov. 17, Democratic leaders met with the National Security Council and
agreed to delay any congressional response to the Fort Hood shooting.
But Lieberman, an independent senator from Connecticut, said his
investigation of the Hassan shooting would continue. He said this would not
interfere with the current FBI probe.
At the hearing, Hassan was said to have given a presentation at Walter
Reed Hospital on Islam. He was quoted as saying that the Koran demanded the
establishment of Islamic rule by force.
Later, the FBI was reported to have found evidence that Hassan was in
contact with an Al Qaida-aligned cleric in Yemen to finance attacks against
the United States. In one e-mail, Hassan was said to have asked for $10,000
for an undisclosed operation.
"There are some who are reluctant to call it terrorism, but there is
significant evidence that is," Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen.
Carl Levin said. "I'm not at all uneasy saying it sure looks like that."