Muslims in Awlaki's school, often referred to as (a term that refers to the early followers of the prophet Mohammed), practice , which brands fellow Muslims they disagree with as apostates deserving death.
ABC News cited unnamed US investigators as saying that the contacts with al-Awlaki were deemed benign and didn't involve direct calls to illegal action. "We don't have any indication that (Hasan) was directed, we don't have any indication that there were co-conspirators but, once again, this is fairly early on in what may be a complex and long-term investigation," a senior investigative official said.
The Sept. 11 Commission report, released in 2004, found that Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdar – Saudi Arabians who helped hijack and fly American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon – had made contact with Awlaki, then prayer leader at the Rabat mosque in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, soon after they moved to San Diego in February 2000. Awlaki, interviewed by the FBI after the attack, said he remembered Hazmi after being shown his picture. But he said he didn't remember what he had discussed with the man.