Washington, May 20: Yemen-based American radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was a guest speaker at the Pentagon just months after the September 11 terror attacks, new documents have revealed.
The US had launched air strikes against al-Awlaki, the first American on the Central Investigation Agency's (CIA) kill or capture list, in Yemen following Osama bin Laden's death, but he escaped.
This is contrast to the February 5, 2002, when the radical imam was invited to and attended the Pentagon event, Fox News reoports.
An internal Department of Defense email that announced the event with Awlaki also revealed other details, like a proposed menu including pork, which is prohibited for Muslims. The email states "the chef will create something special for vegetarians."
The document also revealed that over 70 people were invited by the Defense Department's Office of the General Counsel.
"I have reserved one of the executive dining rooms for February 5th, which is the date he (Awlaki) preferred. He will be leaving for an extensive period of time on February 11," a defense department lawyer wrote in the e-mail.
The e-mail states that al-Awlaki was the featured guest speaker on "Islam and Middle Eastern Politics and Culture."
The Defense Department lawyer who vetted the imam wrote that she "had the privilege of hearing one of Awlaki's presentations in November and was impressed by both the extent of his knowledge and by how he communicated that information and handled a hostile element in the audience."
Al-Awlaki, a dual U.S. and Yemeni national, was interviewed at least four times by the FBI in the first eight days after the September 11 attacks because of his ties to the three hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, including Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour.