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Fort Hood shooting: Al Qaeda now portrays Nidal Hasan as terrorism star

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"The Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan has shown us what one righteous Muslim with an assault rifle can do for his religion and brothers in faith, and has reminded us of how much pride and joy a single act of resistance and courage can instill in the hearts of Muslims everywhere," American-born Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn said in a video released March 7. "The Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan, by the grace of Allah and with a single 30-minute battle, singlehandedly brought the morale of the American military and public to its lowest point in years."

" 'Hasan proves that you can be Al Qaeda by not even being Al Qaeda' – that's the model they're now promoting," says Mr. Brachman. "He has populist appeal within the jihadi movement. The fact that he's not exceptional … is what makes him so compelling."

While the Obama administration has been reluctant to characterize the attack as a terrorist act (a Pentagon report on the Fort Hood attack made no mention of jihad), the Senate Homeland Security Committee has in past hearings linked Hasan and Fort Hood to Al Qaeda's new tactics.

In a committee hearing last month, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that "since 2006 al-Qaida has looked to recruit Americans or Westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures."

The shift from large spectacular attacks is a sign that Al Qaeda is actually at one of "its weakest points organizationally," after years of conflict with the United States, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in testimony to the same Senate committee.

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