Al Qaeda man linked to 9/11 had lunch at PentagonOctober 21st, 2010 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS
London, Oct 21 (IANS) An Al Qaeda leader who has been on the radar of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for his links with the Sep 11, 2001 terror strikes was invited for lunch at the Pentagon within months of the attack, a media report said.
Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US citizen on the CIA’s kill or capture list, was a guest of military brass at the US defence department as part of the military’s outreach to the Muslim community in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Fox News reported quoting some documents.
The incident was flagged by a defence Department employee who told investigators that she helped arrange the meeting after she saw Awlaki speak in Alexandria, Virginia.
The employee “attended this talk and while she arrived late she recalls being impressed by this imam. He condemned Al Qaeda and the terrorist attacks. During his talk he was ‘harassed’ by members of the audience and suffered it well,” reads one of the documents.
The documents revealed that there was a push within the defence department to reach out to the Muslim community. “At that period in time, the secretary of the Army (redacted) was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim.”
Awlaki “was considered to be an ‘up and coming’ member of the Islamic community. After her vetting, Aulaqi (Awlaki) was invited to and attended a luncheon at the Pentagon in the secretary of the Army’s Office of Government Counsel,” Fox News quoted from the documents.
Awlaki, a Yemeni-American, was interviewed at least four times by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the first week after the attacks because of his ties to the three hijackers — Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour. All the three were on board Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon.
The report also said that Awlaki is believed to be hiding in Yemen after he was linked to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who was involved in a mass shooting at the military unit Fort Hood in November 2009. Nidal e-mailed Awlaki prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Sources told Fox News that Awlaki, who is a former Muslim chaplain at George Washington University, also met the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in Yemen and was the middle-man between the young Nigerian and the bomb maker. Awlaki was also said to inspire would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
Former Army Secretary Tommy White, who led the Army in 2001, said he doesn’t have any recollection of the luncheon or any contact with Awlaki.
“If this was a luncheon at the Office of Government Counsel, I would not necessarily be there,” he said.
The Pentagon has offered no explanation of how Awlaki ended up at a special lunch for Muslim outreach.
Army spokesman Thomas Collins said Wednesday that the lunch was not an Army event. “The Army has found no evidence that the Army either sponsored or participated in the event described in this report,” Collins said.
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- Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki sentenced to ten years in prison - Jan 17, 2011
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Tags: alexandria virginia, anwar al awlaki, central intelligence agency, defence department, federal bureau of investigation, flight 77, fox news, government counsel, investigation fbi, islamic community, least four times, malik hasan, military brass, military unit, muslim community, nidal, redacted, secretary of the army, sep 11 2001, terror strikes