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Judicial Watch: Declassified Documents Reveal FBI Warning Identifying Anwar al-Aulaqi as a Terrorist Day Before He Spoke at Pentagon Luncheon


July 2, 2013 - WASHINGTON, DC

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealing that the agency had warned agents who spotted U.S.-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Aulaqi to "approach with caution" the day before he spoke as an invited guest at a Pentagon luncheon. The documents also reveal that the FBI proposed prosecuting al-Aulaqi in 2001 and 2002 on charges stemming from the Imam's spending a total of $2,320 for seven documented encounters with high-priced Washington, D.C., prostitutes.

The documents were obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI and the Department of State seeking records related to the al-Qaeda leader killed in a CIA-led U.S. drone attack.

Specific revelations contained in the newly released documents include the following:

According to FOIA documents previously obtained from the FBI by Judicial Watch, the FBI was aware as far back as September 27, 2001, that al-Aulaqi may have purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta. On October 10, 2002, al-Aulaqi was detained at New York's JFK airport 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.

To date, Judicial Watch's litigation has resulted in the release of more than 1,600 pages of responsive records, many of which were previously classified. The documents pertain to the FBI's investigation of al-Aulaqi's role as "spiritual advisor" to two of the 9/11 hijackers, his suspected involvement with terrorism as early as 1999, his banking activities, his frequent patronizing of prostitutes, and the State Department's revocation of his passport approximately six months before his death.

"The preferential treatment accorded Anwar al-Aulaqi raises serious questions about the unique relationship between the terrorist leader and our own government. One can fairly conclude that the al-Qaeda 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-Aulaqi 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."

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