WASHINGTON - The FBI suspected that US-born Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen, could have bought air tickets for three of the 9/11 hijackers before the attacks, a transparency watchdog said Thursday.
Judicial Watch, which is based in Washington, cited government documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request which it said suggested the flights were taken shortly before the September 11, 2001 terror strikes. A heavily redacted FBI document dated barely two weeks after the devastating attacks and published on the US watchdog group’s website showed Awlaqi’s name and a credit card number alongside that of plot ringleader Mohammed Atta. The details of transactions carried out using the credit card were unclear from the heavily-censored document, but Judicial Watch said they stemmed from searches of airline reservations made by Awlaqi. Also named were two other hijackers, who like Atta were Saudi nationals. The flight listed with Atta’s details was for travel between the US capital Washington and Las Vegas, Nevada, and Miami, Florida, dated August 13, 2001.