Washington: Yemen-based American origin al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, who is on the CIA's kill or capture list, was a lunch guest of the military brass at the Pentagon soon after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
According to documents obtained by Fox News, Awlaki was taken to the Pentagon as part of the military’s outreach to the Muslim community in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
A current Defence Department employee who came forward and told investigators she helped arrange the meeting after she saw Awlaki speak in Alexandria, Virginia flagged the incident.
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 document.
According to the documents, obtained as part of an ongoing investigation by the specials unit 'Fox News Reporting', 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."
In addition, 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.”
Awlaki, a Yemeni-American who was born in Las Cruces, NM, was interviewed at least four times by the 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. The three hijackers were all onboard Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon.
Awlaki is now believed to be hiding in Yemen after he was linked to the alleged Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who e-mailed Awlaki prior to the attack.
First Published: Thursday, October 21, 2010, 14:57