DOCUMENT: Sex, Crime

Terrorists Get Inspired By A Whoremaster

Imam Anwar al-Awlaki was a huge fan of prostitutes

Anwar al-Awlaki

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Awlaki FBI File

JANUARY 11--In light of reports that the Charlie Hebdo gunmen were followers of Anwar al-Awlaki, here are a few highlights of the late radical Muslim cleric’s days as a whoremaster, courtesy of the FBI.

The American-born Awlaki, a spiritual adviser to a multitude of fellow terrorists, was killed in September 2011 by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, reportedly met that year in Yemen with Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two brothers who killed 12 people during the attack Wednesday in Paris.

Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, served as the imam at a small mosque in San Diego in the late-1990s. It was there that the purportedly pious cleric--a married father with a young child--first came to the attention of law enforcement for soliciting prostitutes.

Awlaki was first arrested trolling for hookers in 1996, and later sentenced to attend an AIDS education course and pay fines and restitution. He was busted again in 1997 on a prostitution charge and sentenced to probation, fined, and ordered to perform community service. Awlaki is pictured above in a mug shot snapped after his second San Diego collar.

After moving to Virginia in 2001, Awlaki continued consorting with hookers, according to FBI records.

Suspecting that Awlaki was somehow connected to the September 11 hijackers, FBI agents frequently interviewed the imam, surveilled him, and intercepted his electronic communications. That scrutiny revealed that Awlaki was a prodigious john, a fact that he concealed from mosque congregants.

Agents apparently used Awlaki’s phone records to track his contacts with various escort agencies in the Washington, D.C. area. They then interviewed six hookers about their hotel room encounters with the cleric in the months following the 9/11 attacks.

The importance of the FBI’s Awlaki probe is evident in bureau memos detailing his illicit trysts. Each of the call girls was interviewed by a pair of FBI agents, one of whom was always Pasquale D’Amuro, an FBI assistant director who headed the bureau’s counterterrorism division.

One escort recalled that Awlaki paid her $400 for oral sex in November 2001. The woman showed agents notes indicating that a November 5 customer named “Anwar Aulaqi” lived at 3331 Kaywood Drive in Falls Church, Virginia (the address where the imam resided with his wife and son).

Fearful of police stings, escort firms routinely require customers to provide identity and credit card information before they can book an appointment.

On November 23, Awlaki paid $400 to have sex with an escort in a room at the Washington Suites hotel. “He claimed to be from India and employed as a computer engineer,” according to an FBI memo detailing an interview with the call girl.  

A day after a paid encounter with Awlaki at a Residence Inn, an escort showed FBI agents a pager reflecting her 1:30 PM appointment with “Anwar Aulaqui.” Her customer--who claimed to be a computer engineer from India--paid $220 in cash for oral sex with a condom. After he “finished very quickly,” Awlaki asked the escort to continue fellating him. When the woman replied that would cost an additional $220, Awlaki said he would pay that amount for “full sexual intercourse.” The escort, however, declined his offer.

FBI agents tailing Awlaki on the evening of January 1, 2002 spotted him leaving the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church around 9:15 PM. After stopping at an ATM machine, he began “driving in an erratic manner,” apparently in an attempt to determine if he was being followed. “In order to remain discreet,” investigators broke off their tail, according to a surveillance log. As it turned out, Awlaki was en route to a 10 PM rendezvous at a Swissotel, where he paid an escort $300 for sex.

One hooker recalled two encounters with Awlaki, who was listed in her address book as “Anwar-DC.” On both occasions, Awlaki paid the escort $300 so that he could watch as she “engaged in erotic behavior and stimulated herself.” For his part, the imam “laid on the bed and masturbated to the point of ejaculation.”

The FBI interviewed a call girl who recalled giving Awlaki “a massage (including his genital area)” before having sex with him for $300 on January 28. Her appointment book contained the name “Anwar Aulaqi.” For some reason, an FBI memo includes the observation that the john “did not say or do anything that would indicate he was dangerous or a threat to the United States.” An FBI surveillance team following Awlaki lost him that afternoon as he drove to his 4:15 PM appointment at a Washington, D.C. hotel. 

A hooker who Awlaki paid $400 for sex told the FBI that when he arrived at her Melrose Hotel room, she looked through the peephole and thought to herself that her tall, bearded customer “looked like Osama bin Laden.” She described Awlaki as “very polite,” adding that he said he “likes to use escort services” when he travels to Florida.

While tracking Awlaki’s hotel room encounters, FBI agents tailing the cleric also spotted him trolling for street prostitutes in his 1999 Dodge Caravan.

One night in January 2002, investigators followed Awlaki as he drove in circles around Washington streets “known for the late night activities of prostitutes.” Eventually, a white female entered Awlaki’s minivan. The woman, agents noted, “was in her late teens, dirty blond hair, wearing a shiny black outfit that was made up of a tight long sleeve jacket, very short shorts, and platform high heel thigh boots.”

Awlaki and the woman then drove to a nearby alley, where “It is believed that she was performing a sexual act on him, from what was observed by surveillance,” according to FBI records. The imam then drove a couple of blocks and dropped the woman off at a corner. The hooker could regularly be found on the street at night, reported agents who described her as having “a hard or haggard edge to her appearance.”

On another occasion, agents followed Awlaki to a bookstore where he obtained a copy of the weekly Washington City Paper. After sitting in his vehicle for about ten minutes with the paper, he discarded it in a trash can before returning to his residence. Aware of the Muslim cleric’s “interest in ‘call girls’ or ‘escort services,’” FBI agents concluded that Awlaki was reviewing the publication’s classified section “for potential endeavors.” The day after Awlaki perused the paper, he paid an escort $400 for sex at a Georgetown hotel.

Federal investigators monitoring Awlaki’s interstate patronage of prostitutes considered a criminal case against him, according to a June 2002 FBI memo. But no charges were filed by the time he left the country for good at the end of 2002.  

In one memo, agents noted that, were a prosecution to occur, approval would be needed from the bureau’s Office of Intelligence and Policy Review (OIPR) for the use of “specific information” gathered during the probe. OIPR is the FBI division responsible for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act filings, an indication that electronic surveillance warrants were instrumental in gathering information about the imam and his various escorts.

After his departure from the U.S., Awlaki helped radicalize followers through an assortment of propaganda, including YouTube videos and stories in “Inspire,” an English-language magazine reportedly published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In a June 2010 article, Awlaki called for attacks against anyone who slandered the Prophet Muhammad, and said that Muslims were realizing that “jihad against the West is the only realistic solution for this problem.”

Awlaki’s article also called for the assassination of the Seattle cartoonist who started the online “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” campaign, which the radical cleric said was a “mass movement” by Americans and Europeans to offend Muslims and ridicule Islam. Awlaki also supported the expansion of Islamic law, known as sharia, which calls for public lashings or stonings for those convicted of crimes like homosexuality or adultery. (12 pages)