Fox News has obtained documents showing that Anwar al-Awlaki, currently a high-level Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen connected to several plots to attack the U.S., had lunch at the Pentagon shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Newsmax.com reported. Al-Awlaki recently became the first citizen to have his assassination ordered by the President.
‘[Anwar al-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,” the documents say.
The files say that al-Awlaki was invited as part of an effort by the government to reach out to moderate Muslims. The Bush Administration put significant emphasis on these efforts after September 11, 2001 in an attempt to assure the Muslim community that the U.S. was not waging a war on Islam and to help moderates counter extremist preaching.
Al-Awlaki portrayed himself as an opponent of terrorism shortly after 9/11, earning him the admiration of some in the press. In October 2001, the New York Times called him a “new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West.”
CBS News has confirmed with a Pentagon official that al-Awlaki did indeed come to the Pentagon in the months after the terrorist attacks. He was also interviewed by the FBI around this time because at least two of the 9/11 hijackers attended his mosque in Virginia, but the FBI did not share this intelligence with the Pentagon because they did not believe he was connected to terrorism.
“He was a much different guy back then,” one official told CBS.
However, according to the Christian Action Network’s National Security Advisor, Ryan Mauro, “the extremism of al-Awlaki and his mosque should have been known even back then. He did not suddenly become a bad guy without warning. This is a very worrisome oversight.”