Documents obtained by accountability group Judicial Watch have confirmed that US-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, said to be the former leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was arrested and held in Yemen at the behest of the U.S. Embassy before being released again.
The documents also reveal that the terrorist chief, who previously dined with top brass at the Pentagon, was officially invited to the US embassy in Yemen on March 24, 2011, just six months before his supposed assassination by US drone strike.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. State Department for materials pertaining to al-Awlaqi’s activities and his death in Yemen last year.
On its website, the watchdog group notes that the heavily redacted documents it obtained include two “Privacy Act Release Forms” issued by the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Both documents were signed by al-Awlaqi. One was dated November 14, 2006, and the other July 2, 2007. Judicial watch notes that this confirms the al qaeda terrorist was under official detention for a period of at least eight months.
The documents corroborate reports that suggested al-Awlaqi had indeed been arrested around that time in connection with an al-Qaeda plot to kidnap a U.S. government official. However, press at the time indicated he had been arrested in August 2006 and released in December 2007, without facing trial following lobbying by senior members of his tribe.
The newly uncovered documents do not indicate how long al-Awlaqi was detained or why he was released. According to previous reports, he was interviewed around September 2007 by two FBI agents with regard to the 9/11 attacks and other subjects.
Regarding the invitation to the US embassy in Yemen in March 2011, the new documents reveal that the embassy was asked, by the State Department to issue a communication to al-Awlaqi, requesting him to “appear in person” to pick up an important letter. In reality, the letter was a revocation of his US passport. However, the embassy was ordered not to relay this information until al-Awlaqi arrived.
“The Department?s [sic] action is based upon a determination by the Secretary that Mr. al-Aulaqi [sic] activities abroad are causing and/or likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States.” the documents state.
Speaking on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the embassy did indeed reach out to al-Awlaqi, but that he did not reply to the invitation, and did not appear in person at any point.
Politico posits that the attempt to invite al-Awlaqi to the embassy could have been part of an effort to provide some form of due process to U.S. citizens targeted for the use of deadly force.
Nuland said that officials planned to offer al-Awlaqi a “one-way passport back to the United States” to face undefined criminal charges, and refused to say whether the cleric would have been killed on sight, when asked by an AP reporter.
“I’m not going to entertain the notion that we would be calling him to the embassy for that purpose,” Nuland said.
The new documents also confirm another previously reported incident involving al-Awlaqi in October 2002 when he was detained at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on a warrant for passport fraud, a felony that can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.
The documents state that the FBI ordered al-Awlaqi’s release, even though the arrest warrant was still active at the time of his detention. al-Awlaqi flew to Washington, DC and eventually returned to Yemen. When previously reported earlier this year, this information led many, including former FBI agents, to suggest that the FBI was either tracking the cleric for intelligence or was actively working with him.
“These documents provide further evidence that the federal government, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has been operating a ‘catch and release’ program for terrorists,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton commented on the newly released materials.
“The idea of inviting al-Awlaqi – a known terrorist – to our embassy in Yemen in order to revoke his passport is beyond belief.” Fitton added.
Certainly these revelations will add to the already voluminous evidence that the US cleric was operating as an intelligence asset.
At the time he was invited to the embassy, al-Awlaqi had been officially linked with almost every major contrived terror plot, from directing the underwear bomber – who was allowed to board the plane by order of the US State Department aided by a well-dressed man who got Abdulmutallab on the airliner despite the fact that he was on a terror watchlist and had no passport – to advising Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Authorities have engaged in a cover-up of what happened at Fort Hood after they ordered Private Lance Aviles to delete cell phone footage of the attack.
Awlaqi’s alleged role in the Toronto and Fort Dix, New Jersey, terror plots, also raises questions, given that both were later revealed as contrived by the FBI.
Lawyers in a case relating to the much vaunted 2007 terror plot to attack Fort Dix and kill “as many soldiers as possible” concluded that FBI informants were the key figures behind the operation and that the accused, six foreign-born Muslims, were merely bungling patsies.
Similarly, the “Toronto 18″ terrorists turned out to be “a bunch of incompetent guys who were primarily misled by a delusional megalomaniac”. The explosive fertilizer material the terrorist cell apparently planned to use was in fact purchased by an informant working for the RCMP who had radicalized the group.
Awlaqi was also said to be the spiritual leader of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, a fact that didn’t seem to concern Pentagon top brass who invited him to dine with them just months after the September 11 attacks despite the fact that he had personally colluded with the very hijackers who were alleged to have slammed Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
The US Special Operations Command’s Able Danger program identified the hijackers and their accomplices long before 9/11, and would undoubtedly have also picked up Awlaqi.
It is inconceivable that top Department of Defense officials were unaware that Al-Awlaqi was interviewed at least four times by the FBI in the first eight days after the Sept. 11 attacks because of his ties to the three hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour.
Nevertheless, not only did he dine with the military’s finest, he was given a glowing report by the Defense Department for his role as the featured guest speaker on “Islam and Middle Eastern Politics and Culture.”
These revelations were unveiled in internal Department of Defense emails obtained under the freedom of information act.
Al-Awlaqi’s videos were routinely released by the IntelCenter, which as we have documented is nothing more than a Pentagon front group that has been caught red-handed releasing fake Al-Qaeda videos to bolster support for the geopolitical agenda of the US government.
Researcher Webster Tarpley has documented, Awlaqi is “an intelligence agency operative and patsy-minder” and “one of the premier terror impresarios of the age operating under Islamic fundamentalist cover” whose job it is to “motivate and encourage groups of mentally impaired and suggestible young dupes who were entrapped into “terrorist plots” by busy FBI and Canadian RCMP agents during recent years.”
In March of 2012, Lt.Col. Anthony Shaffer, who worked on the Able Danger program, told Alex Jones that al-Awlaqi worked as a triple agent and an FBI asset well before 9/11.