“ABC reported that the decision to cancel al-Awlaki’s arrest warrant outraged members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego who monitored the imam and wanted the opportunity to ‘look at him under a microscope.'”
“U.S. attorney defends dropping radical cleric’s case in 2002,” by Felisa Cardona for The Denver Post, December 3 (thanks to Bill):
A federal arrest warrant issued in Colorado for radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was withdrawn in 2002 because prosecutors ultimately lacked evidence that he had committed a crime, U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette said Wednesday.
Al-Awlaki is a controversial figure in the investigation of a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, because he exchanged numerous e-mails with alleged gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan before 13 people were killed at the base.
The cleric also has been associated with two of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because the men visited his mosques before the attacks. ABC News first reported this week that Colorado prosecutors had withdrawn a warrant for his arrest in 2002 on passport fraud charges — a case some believe could have prevented his eventual interaction with Hasan.
On Wednesday, Gaouette, who as an assistant U.S. attorney had approved the withdrawal of the warrant, recounted from a long-warehoused file the sequence of events leading to the charge and its withdrawal.
In July 2002, federal prosecutors in Colorado received information from Ray Fournier, a federal diplomatic security agent in San Diego who was investigating al-Awlaki. Fournier’s information was that al-Awlaki listed Yemen as his place of birth on an application for a U.S. Social Security card.
Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen who was born April 22, 1971, in Las Cruces, N.M.
Social Security officials issued a number to al-Awlaki, and he used that number when he applied for a passport in Colorado in 1993, while he was a Colorado State University student.
Fournier’s allegation was that al-Awlaki used false information to obtain the Social Security number and then used that number to obtain a passport, Gaouette said.
A federal diplomatic special agent in Colorado began investigating in preparation to take the case to a grand jury in October 2002 and learned that al-Awlaki corrected the place of birth on his Social Security application to New Mexico.
And as a U.S. citizen, al-Awlaki was entitled to a Social Security number. It made no sense to prosecutors why al-Awlaki would hide his U.S. citizenship when being a citizen would have made it easier to get a passport.
“The bizarre thing is if you put Yemen down (on the application), it would be harder to get a Social Security number than to say you are a native-born citizen of Las Cruces,” Gaouette said.
Gaouette said he and two other federal prosecutors in his office, along with Fournier, held a meeting and decided there was insufficient evidence to present a passport fraud case to a grand jury.
“We asked the court to dismiss the complaint and withdraw the warrant in the interest of justice,” Gaouette said. “There is no sense putting a person through an indictment when the government knows all along that we don’t have evidence or that we can prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt.”
ABC reported that the decision to cancel al-Awlaki’s arrest warrant outraged members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego who monitored the imam and wanted the opportunity to “look at him under a microscope.”…
Looks as if they were right.