Judicial Watch announced today that it has received documents from the U.S. State Department indicating that 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 through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigations (No. 1:12-cv-00893)), al-Aulaqi purchased airline tickets for the following 9/11 hijackers:
- 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.
But 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 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.
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.
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.
“The documents uncovered by Judicial Watch further confirm disturbing derelictions by our national security establishment,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These and other documents leave little doubt that al-Aulaqi had something to 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.”
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.