Talk about dysfunctional: A man was identified by the U.S. government as a terrorist, then he was allowed to speak at the Pentagon, then he was killed in an Obama-ordered drone attack.


According to documents obtained by the corruption-fighting Judicial Watch, now declassified documents show that the FBI warned that Anwar al-Awlaki was a terrorist before he was allowed to speak at a Pentagon luncheon in 2002.

Later, of course, he was targeted in Barack Obama’s drone attack program, and killed.

The Washington watchdog organization said today it has obtained documents from the FBI that show the agency warned agents who might spot the U.S.-born al-Qaida leader to “approach with caution.”

The warning came a day before Awlaki was allowed to speak as an invited guest at a Pentagon luncheon, Judicial Watch revealed.

Years later, in 2010, Obama placed him on a list of people that he approved for killing, and on Sept. 30, 2011, he was in the bull’s-eye of a fatal American drone attack in Yemen.

Reports say it was the Joint Special Operations Command under the direction of the CIA that floated two Predator drones above Awlaki’s convoy, and fired Hellfire missiles into the vehicles, killing the terror leader.

Judicial Watch said the documents reveal the FBI already had identified Awlaki as a “dangerous terrorist” by the time he was invited to speak at a Pentagon luncheon in 2002.

“The documents obtained from the FBI include a computer database record showing that an FBI employee searching for Awlaki’s criminal history on February 4, 2002 – the day before al-Awlaki spoke as an invited guest at a Pentagon luncheon – retrieved information identifying al-Awlaki as a ‘terrorist organization member’ and containing the following alert: ‘Warning – approach with caution … Do not alert the individual to the FBI’s interest and contact your local FBI field office at the earliest opportunity.'”

Judicial Watch also noted the FBI records from about that time suggested Awlaki might be considered for prosecution for patronizing prostitutes.

“The FBI records include a June 4, 2002, memorandum from Assistant FBI Director Pasquale D’Amuro to Office of Intelligence Policy and Review Counsel James A. Baker documenting al-Awlaki’s use of prostitutes in the Washington, D.C., area on at least 7 occasions between November 5, 2001 and February 4, 2002 (the day before his speech at the Pentagon),” Judicial Watch reported.

“The detailed memorandum seeks bureau approval for the prosecution of Awlaki for prostitution-related charges and notes that al-Awlaki spent a total of $2,320 for the encounters. In addition, FBI surveillance reports indicate that al-Awlaki sought and/or engaged the services of a prostitute on at least four more occasions in January 2002,” the organization said.

Other points of interest in the uncovered records show the FBI was investigating Awlaki’s links to terrorism as early as 1999.

“The records include a previously secret memorandum dated June 15, 1999, from the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego office to the FBI director requesting that the bureau open a counterterrorism investigation into Awlaki. As part of this investigation, agents conducted surveillance of his home and at the al-Ribat mosque in San Diego where he served as imam more than two years before the 9/11 attacks,” the report said.

He also was suspected of purchasing airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorists, including mastermind Mohammed Atta.

On Oct. 10, 2002, Awlaqi was detained for alleged passport fraud, but the FBI ordered his release.

“The preferential treatment accorded Anwar al-Awlaki raises serious questions about the unique relationship between the terrorist leader and our own government. One can fairly conclude that the al-Qaida mastermind had some type of ‘protected status’ with our government – despite his terrorist and criminal activities,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We knew from days after the attacks on the World Trade Centers that al-Awlaki was a dangerous character, so why did it take the government ten years to bring him to justice? We intend to continue searching for the answers to this burgeoning scandal.”

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.