By Douglas J. Hagmann
As Americans, we were promised by President Bush that everyone responsible for the wholesale murder of nearly 3000 of our family members on September 11, 2001 and those harboring or aiding them would be brought to justice. Sadly, that promise was only partially true under the Bush administration and demonstrably untrue under the current Obama administration. It is currently hindered by an unprecedented level of conflicts of interest within the Holder justice department.
Although the ongoing injustice for acts of Islamic terrorism waged against Americans pre-dates the Obama administration, the most egregious examples of pandering to Islamic terrorists have certainly occurred under his watch. The massacre at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hassan, the thwarted Christmas Day bombing attempt of a U.S. airline, and the failed bombing in Times Square are just a few of the higher profile incidents where the motives rooted in Islam were unquestionably clear yet not publicly acknowledged.
A look at the larger picture, however, reveals a more insidious problem of influence and infiltration that extends much deeper into U.S. politics and is not limited to any one political party or administration. That is the problem of Saudi influence and infiltration, or “the Saudi factor,” which has adversely affected U.S. counter-terrorism investigations for at least the last quarter century and the last five administrations. Their financial influence and fifth-column infiltration has successfully affected the media, government policies, and most absurdly, frustrated countless counter-terrorism investigators, field agents and derailed investigations.
Perhaps the clearest example of the “Saudi factor” disrupting counter-terrorism agents in the field is current al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki (a/k/a Anwar Nasser Abdulla Aulaqi). He is presently recruiting men and women in the U.S. and Canada to Islamic jihad from a base of operation believed located in Yemen, and is the poster child of Saudi influence and infiltration at the highest levels of the United States government.
Yesterday, Catherine Herridge of Fox News revealed that that a Pentagon official invited al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki to a luncheon of military brass at the Pentagon in the wake of 9/11. A heavily redacted “302,” or FBI interview form, was posted by Fox News that provided just enough information to confirm that the al Qaeda terrorist did indeed infiltrate our military headquarters – by invitation. The 302 notes that al Awlaki was “vetted” prior to the invitation and no problems concerning his background were found.
That’s odd, considering that Anwar al-Awlaki was on the radar screens of counterterrorism investigators since at least the mid-1990’s and had numerous run-ins with the law going back to his college days. Counterterrorism investigators found that al Awlaki was also involved, through an associate, with “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, the Muslim terrorist involved in the New York City landmark bomb plot and whose followers were convicted of the 1993 bombing attack of the World Trade Center.
For those who are unaware of his history, Anwar Al Awlaki was born in New Mexico on April 21, 1971 to a Yemeni diplomat who was assigned in the U.S. at that time. Both of his parents were in the U.S. attending New Mexico State University as graduate students.
He received an engineering degree from Colorado State University, compliments, in part, to about $60,000 in scholarship money he fraudulently received from a U.S. government taxpayer funded program. He lied on his application for a US Agency for International Development grant. In 1990, he lied on his social security application and college documents, stating that he was an international student born in Sana’a, Yemen. He then obtained a Master’s degree in Education from San Diego State University. He also attended George Washington University for a PhD in Human Resource Development on a scholarship provided by the Ministry of Education in Yemen, and received religious training from a France based Islamic correspondence program on Sharia and Islamic jurisprudence.
From 1996 through 2000, Anwar al Awlaki was the Iman at the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque in San Diego. While in San Diego, al-Awlaki was also twice arrested for soliciting prostitutes -once in August 1996 and again in April 1997.
If the Saudi funded “Rabat” mosque rings a familiar bell, it should, as it is where two of the 9/11 terrorists of an exclusively Saudi cell , Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar “worshipped.” In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, counter-terrorism investigators identified Anwar al Awlaki as a person of interest based on his private and frequent meetings with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar at the mosque after Friday prayers.
Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar were two terrorists of the exclusive Saudi cell that attacked the Pentagon, the very location where al Awlaki dined with top military officials. al Awlaki was also associated with a third 9/11 Muslim terrorist during his time at the Saudi-funded Dar-al-Hijrah Mosque and Islamic Center. The telephone number to that mosque was found by investigators in an apartment in the Hamburg, Germany apartment of Ramzi BINALSHIBH, a close associate of Mohammed ATTA and a planner of the 9/11 attacks.
On September 17, 2001, just six days after the 9/11 attacks and four days after former President Bush met with Saudi Prince Bandar on the Truman Balcony at the White House, federal authorities met with and interviewed al Awlaki, eventually releasing him.
Meanwhile, al Awlaki was the subject of a terror-finance investigation of the now defunct SAAR Group, which was funded by the Saudis. It is relevant to note here that an official of the SAAR Group, Jamal Barzinji, a prominent donor and supporter of Barack Obama, signed the deed for the Dar al-Hijrah mosque where al Awlaki was the Imam. And speaking of taxpayer’s money, it was recently reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism that the U.S. Census Bureau has been paying Dar al-Hijrah about $23,000 per month since November 2008 to rent space in one of its buildings. Also, the U.S. State Department has used the mosque in promotional videos about America’s Muslim community, and sent students from its Foreign Service Institute to Dar al-Hijrah.
Although al Awlaki is of Yemeni descent, it is important to examine and understand the Saudi influence, connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamic infiltration of all levels of U.S. government.
While the statute of limitations had passed for the misrepresentations made by al Awlaki in 1990, investigators found that he applied for a U.S. passport in Denver several years later. Considering his potential value as a source under interrogation for terrorism plots and terror finance related cases, investigators sought and successfully obtained a felony arrest warrant in 2002 based on the passport fraud. Investigators detained al Awlaki at JFK Airport in New York on October 10, 2002 upon his arrival in the U.S. on Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 35 from Riyadh. When questioned, he gave investigators his address as 3159 Row Street, Falls Church, Virginia, which is the address of the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center.
Believing that they were about to take al Awlaki into custody on the felony arrest warrant, investigators were surprised and angered to learn that the arrest warrant was cancelled by David M. Gaouette, the interim U.S. Attorney for Colorado at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver the day before al Awlaki was scheduled to arrive in New York. This, despite the fact that al Awlaki was on a terror watch list and that Gaouette was fully briefed on Awlaki’s terror ties. Gaouette has since been appointed to his present post as the U.S. Attorney in Denver by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pursuant to instructions from Washington, investigators were forced to let al Awlaki go and apologize to him and his family for the detention. A Saudi representative then escorted al Awlaki and his family to their connecting flight to Washington where he reportedly worked for the Saudi Embassy in addition to having residual ties to the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center.
After a brief stay in the U.S., Anwar al Awlaki was permitted to leave the U.S. without interference. Interestingly, investigators of the 9/11 Commission attempted to locate and interview Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen, but reported that they could not find him.
Al Awlaki surfaced again as the inspiration behind Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hassan, the guidance counselor to the attempted Christmas Day airline bomber, the thwarted Times Square bomber, and two “alleged” would-be New Jersey Muslim terrorists arrested in June. Thanks to Saudi influence and shameful pandering to Muslim interests by our leaders in Washington, Anwar al Awlaki remains free in Yemen, acting as a terrorist recruiter soliciting attacks against the citizens of the United States.