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'I'm Muslim First, American Second' - Former Classmate of Suspected Ft. Hood Shooter Recalls Red Flags

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "Fox News Alert." There is breaking news about the accused Ft. Hood killer. Two U.S. officials tell Fox News before the murder rampage on the military post, the suspect tried to contact al Qaeda.

Fox News national correspondent Catherine Herridge joins us live -- Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we learned at a briefing here in Washington tonight with investigative officials is that Major Hasan sent a series of e-mails to an individual overseas who espouses the al Qaeda ideology, we were told somewhere between 10 or 20 e-mails. And we're not being steered away from the name Anwar Awlaki. Now, you'll recall that Awlaki was the imam today who posted a statement on his blog which said that Major Hasan was a hero and that what he did was what any good Muslim would do in the U.S. Armed forces when a war was being waged on his own religion.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are these e-mails, though, that they've no found having seized his computers, or are these e-mails that they were well aware of leading up to this for any period of time?

HERRIDGE: That's an excellent question. One of the things we learned this evening is that they were aware of these e-mails. They began late last year. And the JTTF, which is the joint terrorism task force -- that would include the Department of Justice, also the Department of Defense -- they were aware of the e-mails. The question that's kind of hanging out there tonight is if someone within the Defense Department was aware of those e-mails, where did that information go? And even though those e- mails were described to us as being benign and not threatening in nature, how come nothing ever happened with them, if that was truly the case?

VAN SUSTEREN: And then, of course, he was -- was he promoted to major as late -- as recently as May, so the e-mails -- they knew about the e- mails, apparently, late last year, and he was promoted to major in May.

HERRIDGE: Well, I talked to one official this evening who tried to emphasize that Awlaki is kind of, well, a celebrity in the jihadist world, in that these e-mails that Hasan was sending were not threatening and they were consistent with a research project that he had at Walter Reed at that time.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's his research project?

HERRIDGE: Well, he was looking at PTSD, and it's not clear how that would have related to the teachings or the lectures of Awlaki. I have to say that I spoke to one of my legal contacts tonight who's done a number of cases in the eastern district in Alexandria, and some of these cases have dealt with Awlaki.

VAN SUSTEREN: But did anyone ever haul him in and ask him, at least certainly before they promoted them...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know, What's up with these -- what's up with these e-mails and why are you contacting this person? What's up with the research?

HERRIDGE: That's the gap in the case. We just don't know the answer to that, what happened to this information once it was with somebody at the DoD. We don't whether it went any further or it was shared or if Hasan was even questioned about those e-mails.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it, though, you're going to work on that.

HERRIDGE: I will.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) as always. Catherine, thank you.

HERRIDGE: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what is the accused Ft. Hood killer like? Our next guest knows him, was a classmate. He wants to remain anonymous. Good evening, sir. We don't seem to have the audio, but fortunately, I have you.

HERRIDGE: OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the -- in the background...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): I'm still here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, he is here? Oh...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we already (INAUDIBLE) Sir, tell me, how did you -- how did you know the suspect? When did you first meet him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Well, I met him as part of a master's of public health program at the Uniformed Services University (INAUDIBLE) health sciences at Bethesda, Maryland, in 2007 and 2008.

VAN SUSTEREN: How much contact did you have with him in 2007 and 2008?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Just about every day for several classes that we had together for about four or five months.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he ever say anything peculiar, red flag-ish, that drew your attention?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Lots. Lots. The first thing that raised a red flag was one of our first courses together was an environmental health class. We had to do a project or actually a presentation at the end of that class, and we were supposed to do some kind of environmental health project. Now, people were talking about mold. People were talking about water quality.

Well, Hasan gave a presentation on whether the war on terror was a war on Islam. I raised my hand immediately. I questioned why that type of topic was being presented at because it was so off-base, and it was allowed to continue. His radicalism grow throughout the year. He would make frequent comments that he was a Muslim first and an American or an officer second, and also that, you know, Islamic law, Sharia law took precedence over the Constitution. And we all became concerned because he's a sworn officer of the United States and he's supposed to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Yet his loyalties lied elsewhere.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you make any complaints or any -- note it to anybody else, or did anyone -- did anyone else do that, or did the professor or teacher do anything, if you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Well, I made that particular complaint at that point in time. I have a very close colleague who engaged senior leadership at the university, a number of people, regarding this matter, regarding his concerns over these statements that he made.

VAN SUSTEREN: And did anyone ever say anything to you, or did you have any indication anyone followed through on it or took it seriously?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): I personally do not have any indications of that, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, he was promoted later in May. Is that just sort of routine, or did -- was that peculiar? Am I the only one that's seizing upon that -- this tonight? I mean, is that of any significance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Well, it may not have any significance. You know, typically, physicians in the military are promoted on a regular basis up to a certain rank. So you know, that may just have been a part of a routine promotion.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he do anything else that was peculiar to you or anything that stood out that you think that at least now, looking back -- I mean, certainly, you thought so at the time, but other things, as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Well, other things -- you know, I've had colleagues that sat in a human behavior class that he took, and he gave a presentation in the class on -- that justified suicide bombing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he ever say anything in defense? Did he ever say, like -- you know, did you ever engage him in it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): Yes. And you know, we engaged him because he made himself a lightning rod for these types of things. You know, no one ever picked on him for his beliefs, because he was a Muslim, nothing like that, but he would make -- be so vocal about it. And considering the forum, you know, of course, he was challenged by other military officers, saying, Where are your loyalties? You know, what -- and you know, he really didn't have any answer. Instead, you know, he'd become visibly upset, sweaty, you know, very emotional when somebody would question these things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Think you, sir, for joining us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (FORMER CLASSMATE): You're welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, "On the Record" is on the ground in Texas, digging for information about this accused Ft. Hood killer. Producer Justin Wells went to the accused shooter's mosque and found a man that prayed with the suspect. The man reacted to the shootings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very sad. Very sad. He's doing (INAUDIBLE)

JUSTIN WELLS, FOX NEWS PRODUCER: Right. When he came here, did he come here alone, or was he always with other people? Was he usually alone when he came in (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alone. Alone. Alone. He came alone.

WELLS: He always came alone. But you'd see him here -- how many times do you think you probably were here with him? Did you see him every day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, every day.

WELLS: Every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day (INAUDIBLE)

WELLS: In the morning? At night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, morning, night, and (INAUDIBLE) dressed (ph), he come and pray and without his shoes (INAUDIBLE)

WELLS: What would he do with his shoes? He would...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. (INAUDIBLE) tying a lace. No tying. (INAUDIBLE) He just go and pray and (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Justin also went to a gun shop, where the suspect bought a weapon and that he allegedly used during the shootings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WELLS: Now, that's the direction of the mosque. This way down the street, if you keep going, you eventually hit Ft. Hood. And here is the gun store. It's called Guns Galore, and this is where Hasan allegedly purchased the weapon that shot and killed 13 people and wounded dozens more. And you can see Hasan must have most likely pulled in here to the primary parking lot of the store, and then he walked up onto the sidewalk, where they say there are 3,000 guns in stock, 1,700-plus on display. He would have walked around toward the front.

And this is the Guns Galore store. Must have purchased it on Monday through Saturday. They're open from 10:00 until 6:00. They're closed on Sunday. And we walked in and we talked to one of the managers here that really heads up the store. The owner was unavailable. He couldn't tell us much about this at all. All he could say is that, obviously, it is under investigation, and at this point, they just cannot do anything that would hamper an investigation.

Interestingly enough, as we were leaving (INAUDIBLE) gun shop, out in the back, we saw some investigators coming (INAUDIBLE) they had on and it said (INAUDIBLE) domestic terrorism task force on the (INAUDIBLE) only ones here. And the domestic terrorism task force investigators were leaving this Guns Galore gun shop here in Killeen, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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