Monday, June 20, 2011

Book links Awalki to 9/11 attacks

 By Eli Lake

The Washington Times - 12:41 p.m., Su-*nday, June 19, 2011

The American-born Jihadist cleric Anwar Awlaki likely played an important support role in the September 11 attacks nearly ten years ago, according to a new book that examines the threat of homegrown terrorism.

The book, "The Next Wave," by Fox News national security reporter Catherine Herridge, reveals new documents that find Mr. Awlaki was nearly arrested after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon for providing false information on his passport application. Today Mr. Awlaki is one of the leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Mr. Awlaki is also the only known American citizen on a U.S. hit list in the global war on terrorism.

"I believe the evidence supports the conclusion that Anwar Awlaki was an overlooked key player in the 9-11 plot itself, and his contacts with the hijackers were not coincidences but evidence of a purposeful relationship," the author told the Washington Times in an interview Friday.

Ms. Herridge found that two of the 9-11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, first went to a San Diego neighborhood where Mr. Awlaki was residing. Later, Hazmi followed Mr. Awlaki to the Falls Church, Va., Dar al-Hijra Mosque, where Mr. Awlaki became an imam in January 2001. A third 9-11 hijacker, Hani Hanjour would also come to Mr. Awlaki's mosque in this period.

Ms. Herridge also discovered that U.S. diplomatic security wanted to arrest Mr. Awlaki in 2002 for passport fraud and that Mr. Awlaki illegally received a $20,000 scholarship for foreign students when he was a U.S. citizen.

The new evidence disclosed in Ms. Herridge's book raises serious doubts about the mainstream narrative concerning Mr. Awlaki. Mr. Awlaki after 9-11 was considered by U.S. authorities to be a moderate Muslim leader. It is thought that he only became interested in al Qaeda after he emigrated to London in 2003. Mr. Alawki today is a spiritual leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was in contact with Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army major charged with the murder of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

In the book, Ms. Herridge shares details of an interview with Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, also known as the 9-11 commission. Mr. Zelikow said the commission was suspicious of Mr. Awlaki.

"In writing about Anwar Al-Awlaki in our report, we said expressly that we were very suspicious of his role, possible, role in the attack … so that clearly says that we were entertaining the hypothesis," he told her.

Ms. Herridge also interviewed Ray Fournier, a former diplomatic security agent who built a case against Mr. Awlaki for providing false information in his passport application. Mr. Fournier said, however, the Justice Department failed to pursue his charges of passport fraud.

He told Ms. Herridge, "We weren't happy. We would rather not say exactly what was said. There may have been some profanities in that … particular conversation."

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times,


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