New documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act about Anwar al-Awlaki reveal that his banking activity and other links to several 9/11 hijackers were known to the FBI weeks before he was invited to lunch at the Pentagon during an “outreach” to Muslims.
The documentation was obtained by Judicial Watch, the government watchdog agency that investigates and reports on government corruption.
“The more we learn about Anwar al-Awlaki, the more questions arise not only about his activities before and after 9/11, but also about the al-Qaida operational and support network still active in the United States,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“It is now even more concerning that al-Awlaki was invited to the Pentagon after 9/11 and then let go by the FBI despite warrants for his arrest.”
It was reported in 2010 that Al-Awlaki was a lunch guest of military brass at the Pentagon months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
At that time, it was revealed that documents, including an FBI interview conducted after Nidal Hasan’s terror attack on members of the military at Fort Hood in 2009, show that al-Awlaki was taken to the Pentagon as part of the military’s outreach to the Muslim community after 9/11.
The report said that at that time al-Awlaki “was considered to be an ‘up and coming’ member of the Islamic community,” and he “was invited to and attended a luncheon at the Pentagon in the secretary of the Army’s Office of Government Counsel.”
Al-Awlaki is a Yemeni-American who was born in Las Cruces, N.M. He was interviewed by the FBI several times in the weeks after the attacks because of his ties to the three hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour.
The three were aboard Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon.
Now, Judicial Watch says it has documents from the FBI that pose new questions about the ties between al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone attack ordered by President Obama in Yemen on Sept. 30, 2011, and the others.
The documents are part of Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation of al-Qaida operations in the U.S.
Judicial Watch said an FBI document dated only nine days after the attack showed al-Awlaki regularly patronized a gas station in La Mesa, Calif., where hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi worked, “as did probably 9/11 co-conspirator Mohdar Abdullah.”
Another document obtained by Judicial Watch suggested a transfer of funds from al-Awlaki to a hijacker. It revealed a payment from al-Awlaki of $281.50 to an intermediary and then a check from the intermediary to al-Hazmi only weeks before the attack.
“There is no additional information about the transactions. The FBI apparently found the transaction to be of investigative interest because, depending on the identity of the intermediary party, it could indicate direct assistance from al-Awlaki to al Hazmi,” Judicial Watch reported.
Another document showed that the FBI searched a vehicle al-Awlaki had rented in San Diego only three days before the attacks.
“While there is no report regarding the results of the search, the action highlights the FBI’s interest in al-Awlaki and suspicions about his trip to San Diego, home to both al Hazmi and al Mihdhar leading up to the attacks,” Judicial Watch said.
Finally, a document from Oct. 24, 2001, six weeks after the attack, revealed that “the bureau became aware three days after the 9/11 attacks … that al-Awlaki had rented a Mailboxes Etc. mail drop in Falls Church, Va.”
“The mail box was the subject of a federal grand jury subpoena,” the document said.
Judicial Watch said an earlier release of documents showed that only two weeks after the terror attack, the FBI was aware al-Awlaki had bought airplane tickets for three of the hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta.
“Subsequent to the FBI’s discovery, al-Awlaki was detained and released by authorities at least twice and had been invited to dine at the Pentagon,” Judicial Watch said.