Giuliano was also asked whether Hasan or al-Awlaki had ever been confidential informants for the FBI, and responded, “No, sir.”
But in his final Inspire column, al-Awlaki wrote, “I was visited by two men who introduced themselves as officials with the US government (they did not specify which government organization they belonged to) and that they are interested in my cooperation with them. When I asked what cooperation did they expect, they responded by saying that they are interested in having me liaise with them concerning the Muslim community in San Diego.”
The Webster Commission report noted that agents in San Diego suspected that al-Awlaki had a relationship with the bureau that kept the Washington office from investigating his ties with Hasan further.
“In light of Aulaqi’s own comments, I would like you to provide for the record whether the FBI or other federal agencies ever approached, cultivated or targeted Aulaqi or Hasan to be potential confidential informants,” Wolf asked Mueller. “I believe this additional information would help reconcile Aulaqi’s comments with the bureau’s actions – and perhaps clarify why the FBI was reluctant to take more aggressive investigative actions with regard to Aulaqi.”
The congressman’s fifth point of contention is the relationship al-Awlaki had with the 9/11 hijackers and how the FBI’s understanding of that may have influenced its actions before the Fort Hood shootings.
“We were never able to obtain a stitch of evidence that shows Aulaqi knew beforehand about 9/11 or supported the 9/11 hijackers,” Giuliano told the committee. This runs counter to suspicions express in the 9/11 Commission report and links uncovered last year by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.), which he shared with Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Links have also been revealed by the NYPD report and by New York Times reporting.
“Please confirm for the record whether Mr. Guiliano’s characterization correctly represents the FBI’s understanding of Aulaqi’s connection to the 9/11 plot today, especially in light of any information that may have been learned from documents seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011,” Wolf wrote.
The chairman finally sought clarification on the FBI’s understanding of al-Awlaki’s 2002 return to the United States.
“As you know, for several years I have been pressing the FBI for a full accounting of why Aulaqi was abruptly released from custody upon his return to the U.S. in October 2002,” Wolf wrote. “I have not yet received an unclassified explanation.”
“…While there may have been a reasonable argument for allowing him into the U.S. at the time the decision was made in October 2002, the FBI has, thus far, failed to publicly explain its rationale and its role,” he continued. ”More troubling, the documents surrounding the release of Aulaqi do not match the bureau’s public statements on this incident.”
That fall, al-Awlaki was held at JFK Airport on a warrant for fraudulent Social Security and passport statements, then “inexplicably” released into the U.S. — even though the NYPD reported that he was placed on the terror watch list that summer and Giuliano said the FBI “knew he was coming in.”
“I assure you, the bureau, if anything at that point, would have, if we could have incarcerated Aulaqi, we would have,” Giuliano told the panel.
“During the hearing, I raised the question of whether the FBI requested that Aulaqi be allowed into the country, without detention for the outstanding warrant, due to a parallel investigation regarding Aulaqi’s former colleague al Timimi, a radical imam who was recruiting American Muslims to terrorism,” Wolf wrote. “Notably, the Timimi case was being led by the same WFO agent who called the U.S. attorney’s office and customs on the morning of October 10. Did WFO want Aulaqi released to assist in its investigation of Timimi?”
Ali al-Timimi, a Washington, D.C., native, was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for recruiting jihadists.
“I am asking you to provide the committee with a detailed unclassified accounting of the FBI’s actions in October 2002 with regard to Aulaqi,” Wolf asked Mueller. “Given that I have been asking for this information since 2010, I believe it is long overdue.”
Wolf also asked for a full explanation of why the Justice Department failed to use its power granted by anti-terror statutes to investigate and prosecute Hasan — and potentially have stopped the Fort Hood massacre.
The chairman asked for a response from Mueller to all of his inquiries by Sept. 15.
“Had Aulaqi been arrested and tried in 2002, there is a chance that his rise as a radicalizer and terrorist operative over the last decade might have been prevented,” said Wolf.