Imam tied to hijackers weighing Saudi job offer - One-time subject of FBI probe (WND-WORLD NET DAILY) By Paul Sperry WASHINGTON 08/05/03)
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WASHINGTON -- A Muslim cleric tied to two of the Saudi hijackers who
crashed a jumbo jet into the Pentagon is weighing job offers in Saudi
Arabia, says an official at the hard-line mosque he used to head
The imam, Anwar Aulaqi, gave politically charged sermons at Dar al-
Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., the largest mosque in the
country. He was the subject of an FBI counterterrorism probe before
the Sept. 11 attacks.
"He´s exploring some opportunities to do some teaching in Saudi
Arabia," said Dar al-Hijrah spokesman Johari Malik, who told
WorldNetDaily he met with Aulaqi in Saudi this spring.
Saudi clerics typically teach a puritanical brand of Islam called
Wahhabism, which is practiced by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Aulaqi, now living in Yemen, was the "spiritual adviser" to at least
two of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 -- all of
whom were Saudi nationals -- and held "closed-door meetings" with
them, according to the recently declassified 9-11 report.
He first met with hijackers Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar at a
San Diego mosque he led.
Aulaqi, aka al-Awlaki, left the San Diego mosque in the summer of
2000. After traveling overseas, including to Britain, he moved to
Falls Church and became the spiritual leader of Dar al-Hijrah in
January 2001. Two months later, Al-Hazmi joined Aulaqi in Falls
Church, along with Hani Hanjour, who also lived in San Diego for a
time, and they began attending Dar al-Hijrah. Hanjour is said to have
piloted Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
One of the members of the mosque, Eyad Alrababah, helped them find an
apartment and obtain fake IDs through the local immigrant community.
About a month later, he drove them, along with two other hijackers,
on a trip to Connecticut, where they checked into a hotel for two
nights and made some 75 calls to locate apartments, flight schools
and car-rental agencies for the hijackers, the report says. The group
also traveled to New Jersey.
The report also says that during a search of co-conspirator Ramzi bin
al-Shibh´s apartment in Hamburg, Germany, authorities found the phone
number for the imam´s mosque in Falls Church -- Dar al-Hijrah. Bin al-
Shibh roomed with Mohamed Atta, the hijacking ringleader.
The report quotes an FBI agent responsible for the Sept. 11
investigation saying, "There´s a lot of smoke there," regarding
Aulaqi´s connection to the hijackers.
The FBI is not actively investigating Aulaqi, however. It closed an
inquiry into his activities in March 2000, shortly after al-Hazmi and
al-Midhar arrived in San Diego.
"During the counterterrorism inquiry," the report said, "the FBI
discovered that the imam was in contact with a number of other
persons of investigative interest," and had connections to suspected
terrorist front groups.
The report says Aulaqi in early 2000 was visited by one of the
subjects of a Los Angeles investigation who was closely associated
with Blind Sheikh al-Rahman, a convicted co-conspirator in the 1993
World Trade Center bombing.
Dar al-Hijrah´s Malik says that, for his part, he never met
the "alleged hijackers," as he repeatedly referred to them. And he
asserts that the lanky, bearded Aulaqi, who´s in his early thirties,
did not know them, noting attendance is fluid at the mosque, which
attracts more than 3,000 worshipers each Friday to its prayer
Malik says he´s not worried about the negative attention. "It only
boosts our popularity," he said. "It´s PR."
And he challenged the FBI to eavesdrop on the mosque´s sermons and
worship services, predicting "they will only see what a good religion
this is, and convert."
Malik explains Aulaqi went to Yemen last year not to escape
investigators, but the growing resentment he saw toward Muslims in
America after Sept 11. He said he then came back to the U.S. from
Yemen for a brief visit in the fall "to close out his business." He
had been studying to get his doctorate at George Washington
University. Malik says he also traveled to Phoenix, before returning
Both Aulaqi´s parents are from Yemen, an al-Qaida hotbed. In 2000,
suicide bombers there attacked the USS Cole.
According to leaks from a still-classified section of the report,
Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent and advance man
for the hijackers, delivered $400,000 from Saudi Arabia for a mosque
in San Diego.
Asked if Dar al-Hijrah receives funding from Saudi sources, Malik
replied "not to my knowledge."
Dar al-Hijrah is favored by Washington´s Palestinian community. About
25 percent of its worshipers are Palestinians, most of whom are
stridently opposed to U.S. aid to Israel and support Hamas, which
enlists Palestinian suicide bombers. Saudi has raised money for the
families of the suicide bombers.
Aulaqi preached sermons critical of U.S. foreign policy; and after
Sept. 11, members of his flock readily blamed the attacks on Israel.
He also opposed U.S. bombing of Afghanistan in retaliation for the
attacks, and suggested it would only steel the resolve of al-Qaida
"People were willing to kill themselves on Sept. 11, and a few
missiles won´t intimidate them," Aulaqi told the Washington Times a
month after the attacks.
Another anti-Israeli firebrand, Sheikh al-Hanooti, preceded him as a
Dar al-Hijrah imam.
At the 1997 Islamic Association for Palestine convention, al-Hanooti
was captured on videotape proclaiming that "Jews are the enemy of
Allah," notes terrorism expert Steven Emerson.
Dar al-Hijrah only last Friday replaced Aulaqi. Its new imam,
Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh, comes from the Masjid al-Rahma mosque in
Baltimore. He was a founding member of Dar al-Hijrah, established in
1983. Before that, he was a senior judge in the sharia courts in
Sudan, another al-Qaida hotbed.
Dar al-Hijrah runs a school, Washington Islamic Academy, in nearby
Springfield, Va. It uses textbooks imported from Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia that are laced with anti-Christian and anti-Semitic dogma,
(© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. 08/05/03)
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