Evidence blocked arrest of imam with Fort Hood tie

AP News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2009 8:42 PM

Federal prosecutors in Colorado say they had no choice but to dismiss 2002 charges against a Muslim cleric who later had contact with the Army psychiatrist accused in the Fort Hood shootings.

U.S. Attorney David Gaouette said Wednesday that his office filed passport fraud charges against Anwar al-Awlaki, who got a passport in Fort Collins in 1993 while attending Colorado State University.

But Gaouette says prosecutors dismissed those charges a few months later after learning that a Social Security number al-Awlaki used to obtain the passport was valid.

The imam was reportedly e-mailing Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood last month.

Gaouette says that even if the imam had been convicted, he would have faced only about 6 months in custody.