Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, US Department of Justice spokesman, Dean Boyd, has revealed that the US House Committee on Homeland Security – led by Congressman Peter King – has initiated an investigation into US-born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s possible involvement in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the office of the US Attorney General has in fact already, in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI], initiated a special investigation focusing on al-Awlaki’s possible involvement in the [9/11] attacks.”
He added that this investigation would “review all testimony and documents relating to 9/11, including e-mails and audio recordings made by al-Awlaki, as well as some of the lectures that he delivered at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia, in addition to reviewing the investigations conducted with him in the aftermath of the attacks.”
However Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd refused to comment on when the results of these investigations would be made public.
With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fast approaching, Fox News broke the story that the US House Committee on Homeland Security is initiating an investigation into radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, quoting a letter from committee chairman Peter King to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Investigations confirm that Anwar al-Awlaki was in contact with three of the five hijackers on Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, and the US House Committee on Homeland Security believes that this is more than a coincidence.
The US House Committee on Homeland Security is seeking to determine whether al-Awlaki was involved in the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks – which are considered the worse terrorist attack on US soil – and the precise nature of his relationship with 3 of the 19 hijackers; namely Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Al-Hazmi, and Khalid al-Mihdhar.
In a three-page letter addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, which was sent in May, US Congressman King reveals that the congressional investigation will seek to determine two main issues, namely “to what extent Anwar al-Awlaki wittingly or unwittingly facilitated the plot of the 9/11 hijackers” and “to what extent al-Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative, offering support to acts of terrorism, prior to 9/11.”
King writes that “there exists a well-documented factual basis for this congressional investigation” adding that “al-Awlaki’s status as an Al Qaeda operative is undeniable.”
The US Congressman relates a number of terrorist incidents that al-Awlaki has been involved in, including “on December 25, 2009, AQAP trained and directed Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit, Michigan. On February 9, 2011, the National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael E. Leiter testified before the Committee on Homeland Security: ‘Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US – Yemeni citizen and leader within AQAP, played a significant role in the attempted airliner attack.’”
King added “with the years of hindsight into al-Awlaki’s growing status within Al Qaeda, including his involvement in the Christmas Day 2009 attacks, there exists the critical need to reexamine the facts surrounding al-Awlaki and the 9/11 attacks.”
Citing further evidence for reopening the investigation into al-Awlaki, King asserted that “the 9/11 Commission Report suspected that al-Awlaki tasked Jordanian national Eyad al-Rababah in May 2001 to assist two 9/11 hijackers in finding an apartment.” He added that “in 1999, a prior investigation by the San Diego FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) tied al-Awlaki to 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. A known Al Qaeda procurement agent named Ziyad Khaleel had been in contact with al-Awlaki, and Khaleel had previously purchased a satellite phone for Osama Bin Laden.”
In addition to this, King claims that investigations reveal that “[9/11 hijackers] Al-Mindhar and Al-Hazmi attended the Rabat mosque [in San Diego] where al-Awlaki preached. In addition, al-Awlaki acted as a spiritual advisor to both.”
Additional information further strengthens the relationship between al-Awlaki and a number of the 9/11 hijackers, including the fact that “in January 2001, al-Awlaki relocated to Northern Virginia and began preaching at the Dar al Hijra mosque…four months later, on April 4, 2001, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour moved from Arizona to Northern Virginia.”
King concluded his letter to the US Attorney General by stressing that “given the greater collection of intelligence and integration of pertinent data since the attacks of 9/11, I believe that al-Awlaki may have played greater roles in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as well as the other terrorist plots, than those of which we have been previously aware. Accordingly, I request the full assistance of the Department of Justice in carrying out this inquiry.”
US born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been implicated in a number of terrorist plots against the US, most notably the 2009 “Christmas Day attacks” and the Fort Hood shootings. He has been described by US politicians as “terrorist number one” and “the world’s most dangerous man.” He is currently believed to be in hiding in Yemen, and reports indicate that he is considered so dangerous that the Obama administration may have authorized killing him.