Dining with the enemy: Al Qaeda leader linked to 9/11 hijackers ‘was invited to the Pentagon for lunch after attacks’

Daily Mail – October 22, 2010

An Al Qaeda leader who is one of the most wanted men in the world was invited for lunch at the Pentagon in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a new report has claimed.

New documents have been obtained which apparently detail how  Anwar Al-Awlaki, the first American on the CIA’s kill or capture list, rubbed shoulders with high-ranking military personnel just months after the atrocities.

Fox News claim to have acquired documents that state that  Awlaki was taken to the U.S. Department of Defense’s headquarters as part of the military’s outreach program to the Muslim community in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

In an FBI interview conducted after the Fort Hood shooting in November last year, a Defense Department employee told investigators that she helped to arrange the meeting with Awlaki after seeing him speak in Alexandria, Virgina.

One of the documents read that the employee had ‘attended this talk and while she arrived late she recalls being impressed by this imam. He condemned Al Qaeda and the terrorists attacks’

‘During his talk he was harassed by members of the audience and suffered it well,’ the document continued.

Other documents read: ‘At that period in time, the secretary of the Army was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim’.

American-born Awlaki, of Yemeni descent, ‘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 was apparently interviewed at least four times by the FBI in the week after the September 11 attacks because of his links to the three hijackers.

Nawaf al-Hazmi,Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour were all aboard Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

He was also linked to the alleged Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan who had emailed Awlaki before the attack

Awlaki, a former Muslim chaplain at George Washington University, is now believed to be hiding in Yemen.

That is where he is said to have met with the Christmas Day bomber Farouk Abdulmutallab and became the go between the young Nigerian and the maker of the bombs that Abdulmutallab had planned to use.

There appeared to have been a break in communication between the FBI and the Pentagon as it emerges that none of the Bureau’s information abotu Awlaki was shared with the Department of Defense.

Former Army Secretary Tommy White who led the troops in 2001 has said he doesn’t recall having lunch or any contact with Awlaki.

White said: ‘If this was a luncheon at the Office of Government Counsel, I would not necessarily be there’.

The Pentagon has yet to offer an explanation as to how one of the world’s most wanted men with clear connections to other terrorists could have ended up at a lunch for Muslim reconciliation soon after the attacks.

Army spokesman Thomas Collins said: ‘The Army has found no evidence that the Army either sponsored or participated in the event described in this report’.

A former high-ranking FBI agent told Fox News that nine years ago when Alwaki went to the Pentagon lunch, there was tremendous ‘arrogance’ about the screening process and who they allowed in the building.

‘They vetted people politically and showed indifference toward security and intelligence advice of other’, the former agent claimed.

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