The Washington-based conservative group Judicial Watch on Thursday tried to claim that Yemeni American Anwar al-Awlaki, suspected of being a member of al-Qaeda before he was killed in a US drone strike in 2011, may have bought airline tickets for some of the 9/11 hijackers in 2001.
Based on heavily redacted documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Judicial Watch suggested Awlaki bought airline tickets for 9/11 hijackers and that the FBI withheld this intelligence from the public.
But the FBI denied this claim, specifically citing the documents Judicial Watch claimed showed otherwise.
The document mentions Awlaki, then features several lines of redacted text, and then lists information about the 9/11 hijackers’ airline tickets.
In addition, writes J.M. Berger at ForeignPolicy.com, “all three tickets are attributed to known debit cards held by the hijackers that do not match the card number given for Awlaki in Judicial Watch’s bombshell-smoking-gun-gate FOIA document.”
Furthermore, Awlaki was invited to a luncheon at the Pentagon as an example of moderate Islam in America after the date of the released FBI documents. The notion that the Pentagon would invite someone to dine with US officials that was suspected of being involved in 9/11 soon after the attacks is absurd.
Berger further explains Judicial Watch’s unlikely claim: “to make the case being made by Judicial Watch and Fox, you have to go well past simple suppression of this explosive allegation against Awlaki and argue that the FBI actually falsified documents to support a claim that no one knew about at the time the chronology was compiled and at the time it was released, and that it then inexplicably let the cat out of the bag in a later FOIA request. That’s asking a bit much.”
Judicial Watch’s shoddy reporting here is a stupendous example of confirmation bias. The Obama administration killed Awlaki in a targeted assassination in Yemen in 2011, despite his being an American citizen entitled to constitutional rights to due process.
Ever since, conservatives have had to make excuses for his extrajudicial assassination. Judicial Watch, apparently eager to retroactively criminalize Awlaki and free themselves from having to defend the blatant deprivation of constitutional rights, jumped on the chance to do so without the slightest responsibility to double check or consider the context.
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