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Monday, May 7, 2012
Posthumous Awlaki Article Claims CIA, FBI Tried to Recruit Him as InformantAnwar Awlaki claimed he was repeatedly targeted for recruitment as a spy or an informant for the U.S. government in an article published posthumously in the most recent issue of Inspire, the English-language jihadist magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
It has long been speculated that Awlaki may have been an informant for the FBI while he was an imam in San Diego in the period around when he met the September 11 hijackers, but clear evidence has never emerged, and the account from Inspire does little to settle the question.
Awlaki's version of his time in America has a clear editorial slant and should be taken with a very large grain of salt, but the account given touches on several controversial and little-understood events from his life.
As reported by Catherine Herridge, Awlaki falsified immigration documents when he moved back to the United States as a college student in the 1990s in order to qualify for a U.S. government scholarship for foreign-born immigrant students (Awlaki was born in New Mexico). According to Awlaki:
Awlaki claims the scholarship program was a CIA recruiting initiative.
In 1991, as has been previously reported, Awlaki traveled to Afghanistan. Previous stories on this trip were only weakly sourced with little detail. Awlaki does not flesh out the trip substantially but he does acknowledge that he went to Afghanistan for jihad.
Awlaki claims that he scholarship (obtained fraudulently in the first place) was withdrawn after he returned from Afghanistan. Awlaki moved to San Diego where he became imam at the Ar-Ribat mosque. According to Awlaki, the drumbeat of attempted recruitment continued.
There was nothing happening at the mosque that would fall under the loose category of what we today refer to as terrorism but nevertheless, it is my firm belief that the government, for some reason, was actively trying to plant moles inside the mosque. There were some people who would just show up from nowhere who would try to mingle and fit in the mosque's community in suspicious ways. When things do not work out well with them they just disappear, only for someone else to take their place. These people would deal with me in particularly peculiar means that makes me wonder if they were really being send over by the government. Couldn’t they afford to send anyone better?Awlaki said his much-heralded arrests for soliciting prostitution were efforts to coerce him into acting as an informant.
Awlaki did not detail his connections to the September 11 hijackers, but he discussed the FBI's scrutiny of those contacts after the attacks.
September 11 was a Tuesday. By Thursday the FBI were knocking on my door. The questions revolved around the attacks. They visited me again but this time they were asking for cooperation which I made it clear that they shouldn’t expect and the third meeting which was the last I had my lawyer attend the meeting.Documents obtained by INTELWIRE indicate there was a fourth meeting between Awlaki and the FBI during this time period.
For more about Awlaki, check out J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, on sale everywhere.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
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