Anwar al-Awlaki, the Islamic cleric killed in a drone strike in Yemen, used to frequent prostitutes in DC posing as a computer engineer from India before he fled the US in 2002.
He was neither. Awlaki was born in New Mexico, US to parents of Yemeni descent, and he studied civil engineering. And he is not known to have visited India ever.
The cleric, who used to preach at a mosque in the adjoining state of Virginia, had several sexual encounters with prostitutes in DC hotels, according to the FBI.
Seven of them took place between November 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and February, 2002, according to FBI documents released to Judicial Watch, a bipartisan watchdog.
Awlaki had been on the FBI’s radar by then, suspected of purchasing flight tickets for the 9/11 hijackers, including their Egyptian ringleader Mohamed Atta.
FBI investigators interviewed the women engaged by Awlaki, whose names, contact details and escort services were redacted from the documents to protect their identities.
Speaking to FBI investigators three days after a November 23, 2001 encounter, a prostitute said: "He claimed to be from India and employed as a computer engineer."
When she asked him for a business card, he produced an electronic storage device containing an entry of the name of a computer company. She couldn’t recall the name.
But she remembered him as "tall and thin with a full beard, and polite". She had found the full beard out of place at that time in America, so soon after the recent terrorist attacks.
For the next encounter, Awlaki was more forthcoming. He gave the woman his real name - spelt differently as Anwar Aulaqui. To her he was again a computer engineer.
This time, he was from California.
But "originally" from India. It’s hard to miss here the obvious attempt to appear real, given the hordes of Indian-origin techies in California’s Silicon Valley.
He was Indian once again for a January 1, 2002 encounter.
The cleric would soon leave the US and pop up in Yemen, the country of his parents, and become the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, planning terrorist plots against the US.
He is blamed for 2010 plot to detonate explosive devices on two US-bound cargo planes, and a 2009 plan to blow up an airliner by Farouk Abdulmutallab - the Christmas Day bomber.
The surviving Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has told investigators he and his elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were inspired by Awlaki’s preachings.
Awlaki’s death in September 2011 sparked a debate in the US on the use of drones by the Obama administration and the killing of American citizens without a judicial trial.