WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The politically conservative group Judicial Watch said it had documents suggesting U.S.-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was in U.S. custody before his death.
The documents, received from the State Department through the Freedom of Information Act, confirm his killing in Yemen in a Sept. 30, 2011, drone attack, it said in a news release Wednesday.
The statement from Judicial Watch said President Obama reportedly "authorized the assassination" of Awlaki, "the first American citizen added to the government's 'capture or kill' list, describing the radical Muslim cleric as 'chief of external operations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula."
The statement also said State Department documents from 2006 and 2007 indicate Awlaki was held in Yemen by U.S. authorities for at least eight months, was detained at JFK Airport in New York for passport fraud until the FBI ordered his release and was asked to appear in person at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen in 2011 to have his U.S. passport revoked.
"These documents provide further evidence that the federal government, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has been operating a 'catch and release' program for terrorists. The idea of inviting Awlaki, a known terrorist, to our embassy in Yemen in order to revoke his passport is beyond belief," Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said.