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U.S. Released Radical Cleric

The man who influenced three 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was once in U.S. custody, but was released, according to newly released documents. Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the foremost preachers of radical Islam known by some as “America’s Osama bin Laden,” has been a longtime FBI target and was detained at New York’s JFK Airport in 2002 on a felony arrest warrant but quickly released to Saudi custody, which insiders believe is a result of his high-level connections in the Saudi Arabian embassy. A federal agent who spent years on the case said he was “stunned” by al-Awlaki’s release, saying “He was a high-value target. Everybody was excited about the prospect of hooking this guy up under a [criminal] charge to motivate a conversation with him regarding his relationship with the [9/11] hijackers.” Al-Awlaki has long since fled to Yemen, where he continues release influential tapes (his Facebook page has 4,800 fans) and, authorities believe, recruit terrorists and plan attacks.