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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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New Docs Reveal FBI Surveillance Team Trailed Terrorist al-Aulaqi to Pentagon for His Luncheon Speech to DOD Brass

More than 250 pages of FBI surveillance logs reveal that Agents spent four months following al-Aulaqi 

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained surveillance reports and logs from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealing that FBI agents trailed U.S.-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Aulaqi to the front doors of the Pentagon on the day he spoke as an invited guest at a Department of Defense luncheon. The day before the surveillance and luncheon, al-Aulaqi had been identified as a “terrorist organization member,” and an FBI alert had been issued reading, “Warning – approach with caution . . . Do not alert the individual to the FBI’s interest and contact your local FBI field office at the earliest opportunity.” [Emphasis added.]

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According to the FBI surveillance log for February 5, 2002, at 11:30 am, “Aulaqi boarded the Metro train, blue line north for the Pentagon.” At 11:32 am, “Aulaqi exited the Metro train, walked through the turnstyle [sic] and greeted two unidentified white females.” At 11:40 am, “Aulaqi and the two unidentified females walked through the train station, onto the escalator, walked southwest and west adjacent to the Pentagon, up the steps and walked northeast towards the entrance to the Pentagon.” And at 12:00 pm, “Surveillance discontinued at the Pentagon.” While at the Pentagon, Aulaqi was a featured speaker at a private luncheon for high-level Pentagon officials.

The 262 pages of documents were obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuitagainst the FBI and the Department of State seeking records related to the al-Qaeda leader killed in a CIA-led U.S. drone attack.

Other revelations contained in the newly released FBI documents:

  • On February 1, 2002, al-Alaqui’s wife was followed to the Institute for Islamic and Arab Sciences in America (IIASA) in Merrifield, VA, a project of the Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission. The Institute was reportedly used to train U.S. military chaplains and was raided by the FBI in 2004, after which, according to the Washington Post, the State Department revoked diplomatic visas of 11 people affiliated with the institute as part of an effort to curb extremist Islamic teachings in the United States. In 2005, Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) requested the IRS investigate IIASA as being among “tax-exempt organizations such as charities and foundations, which finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.”
  • On February 3, 2002, after apparently attending a Christian education meeting at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA, al-Aulaqi was allegedly trolling The City Paper’s classified section for a prostitute. According to the FBI log, “Surveillance is of the opinion that Aulaqi read and subsequently discarded the newspaper away from his home because he did not want to take it home. Aware of Aulaqi’s interest in ‘call girls’ or ‘escort services,’ surveillance believes that Aulaqi was looking at ‘The City Paper’s’ classified sections for potential endeavors.”

According to Fox News, the invitation list for the Pentagon luncheon FBI agents followed Aulaqi to included up to 70 top DOD staffers, including, Deputy General Counsel Charles Allen, former Deputy General Counsel Whit Cobb, former principal Deputy General Counsel Dan Dell’Orto, former General Counsel William Haynes, Deputy General Counsel Paul Koffsky and former deputy General Counsel Douglas Larsen. The London Daily Mail reported that “the Defense Department lawyer who vetted al-Awlaki wrote that she ‘had the privilege of hearing one of Mr. Awlaki’s presentations in November and was impressed by both the extent of his knowledge and by how he communicated that information and handled a hostile element in the audience’.”

According to FOIA documentspreviously 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 1,800 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 documents also raise serious questions as to the nature of the relationship between al-Aulaqi and the U.S. government. As Fox News reported on August 23, 2013, “A four year investigation by Fox News, and newly declassified documents obtained separately by Judicial Watch, are raising questions over the U.S. government’s handling of Anwar al-Awlaki, and whether it tried to recruit the radical American cleric as an intelligence source in 2002.” According to the report, outgoing FBI Director Mueller did not dismiss the possibility, telling Fox News, “I am not personally familiar with any effort to recruit Anwar al-Awlaki as an asset – that does not mean to say there was not an effort at some level of the Bureau (FBI) or another agency to do so.”

One memo obtained by Judicial Watch from Mueller to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 3, 2002 — seven days before the imam suddenly re-entered the U.S. and was detained and then released at JFK Airport – is marked “Secret” and titled “Anwar Aulaqi: IT-UBL/AL-QAEDA.” The FBI ordered al-Aulaqi’s release at JFK, even though an arrest warrant was still active at the time of his detention. On October 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return another FBI memo, also marked “Secret,” includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.”  All of which raises further questions about the al-Aulaqi-U.S. government relationship.

“These FBI logs document Keystone-cop incompetence by our national security establishment.  For the FBI to follow a known terrorist to the Pentagon where the terrorist has a high-level meeting is beyond comprehension,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is becoming increasingly apparent that there’s more than meets the eye in Obama’s assassination of al-Aulaqi.  We were told that he was a terrorist, when in fact he was also probably a U.S. government informant.  Did Obama know about this?  Congress and the media need to get on the ball.”