Would you be surprised if I told you that the federal government invited a terrorist to the Pentagon for lunch, all the while knowing that he likely assisted the 9/11 hijackers?
That’s what we found out recently from documents we received from the U.S. State Department. According to the records, which we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was aware on September 27, 2001, that Anwar al-Aulaqi, the U.S. born terrorist assassinated by a U.S. drone in Yemen on September 30, 2011, had purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta.
Subsequent to the FBI’s discovery, al-Aulaqi was detained and released by authorities at least twice and had been invited to dine at the Pentagon!
According to a September 27, 2001 FBI transcription obtained by Judicial Watch, al-Aulaqi evidently assisted with the following travel accommodations just before 9/11:
- Mohammed Atta, America West Airlines, 08/13/2001, for a flight from Washington, DC, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida.
- S. Suqami, Southwest Airlines, 07/10/2001, for a flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Orlando, Florida.
- Al-Sheri, National Airlines, 08/01/2001, for a flight from San Francisco, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida.
The documents also include material showing that al-Aulaqi was uncooperative with FBI agents investigating the 9/11 attacks and was seemingly a central focus of the FBI investigation and monitoring related to 9/11.
These discoveries by Judicial Watch led to widespread press coverage and precipitated unusual pushback from the FBI, which tried to deny that al-Aulaqi was connected to the 9/11 hijackers. No surprises there.
But as I told Fox News: “The FBI can clear up the matter by releasing the full document. It is a shame that we had to sue to get this basic information about the 9/11 attacks. The FBI spin should, accordingly, be taken with a grain of salt. This document was given to us by the FBI in response to a request about al-Aulaqi, so it is interesting that we are now told that the hijackers’ information disclosed in this document has nothing to do with him. Of course, Mr. al-Aulaqi was killed on orders of the president, so no one can pursue this inquiry with al-Aulaqi.”
While the FBI was quick to discount its own records, it has been silent about why al-Aulaqi was arrested for serious crimes and then released by authorities, including the FBI itself!
Records previously uncovered by Judicial Watch, subsequent to the September 27, 2001 FBI transcription, show that al-Aulaqi was arrested and released by authorities. Two documents uncovered by Judicial Watch include “Privacy Act Release Forms” issued by the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, and were signed by al-Aulaqi. One was dated November 14, 2006, and the other July 2, 2007, indicating that al-Aulaqi had been arrested by authorities. The documents do not indicate how long al-Aulaqi was detained or why he was released.
In addition to the arrests noted by the documents in 2006 and 2007, al-Aulaqi was detained and questioned at New York’s JFK airport on October 10, 2002, under a warrant for passport fraud, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. However, the FBI ordered al-Aulaqi’s release, even though the arrest warrant was still active at the time of his detention, as reported by Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge. Once released, al-Aulaqi then took a flight to Washington, DC, and eventually returned to Yemen.
So let’s stop and catch our breath for a moment, because this is a point not to be missed: After learning – or at the least suspecting, if you believe the FBI – that al-Aulaqi was connected to the 9/11 hijackers, the FBI had him in its grasp following an arrest, and then simply let him go.
But that’s not all.
On February 5, 2002, four months after the FBI discovered his connection to the 9/11 terrorists, al-Aulaqi was invited to dine at the Pentagon on February 5, 2002, “as part of the military’s outreach to the Muslim community in the immediate aftermath of the attacks,” reports Herridge. (Political correctness strikes again.)
JW also previously uncovered documents detailing an attempted ruse by the U.S. government to revoke al-Aulaqi’s passport in 2011. The records show that the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen was asked on March 24, 2011, to issue a communication to al-Aulaqi, requesting him to “appear in person” to pick up an important letter at the post.
The letter issued by the embassy was a revocation of his passport: “The Department?s [sic] action is based upon a determination by the Secretary that Mr. al-Aulaqi activities abroad are causing and/or likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States.” The embassy was instructed not to inform al-Aulaqi when he came to the embassy that the “important letter” was a passport revocation.
So, again, a known terrorist was arrested and released, invited to dine at the Pentagon and then invited to a U.S. embassy in some sort of crazy keystone cops operation.
The documents uncovered by Judicial Watch further confirm disturbing derelictions by our national security establishment. These and other documents seem to leave little doubt that al-Aulaqi had something to do with 9/11 and violated the law. Yet this terrorist was feted at the Pentagon and given the proverbial “get out of jail free card” by law enforcement – with deadly consequences.
As I’ve noted before in this space, al-Aulaqi was a dangerous character.
Since September 2009, according to the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy, 26 terrorism cases have been tied to al-Aulaqi, including an association with blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, currently in prison for his role in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Anwar al-Aulaqi was also known to have been in email contact (19 email exchanges) with Major Nidal Hasan, who was charged with 13 murders during the Fort Hood massacre on November 5, 2009.
In 2010, President Obama reportedly authorized the assassination of al-Aulaqi, the first American citizen added to the government’s “capture or kill” list, describing the radical Muslim cleric as “chief of external operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” The Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department has reportedly determined that targeting and killing of U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law.
Here’s my question: How many other drones will be sent to assassinate terrorists released by the FBI?