(WASHINGTON) -- A terror suspect, now believed to be hiding in Yemen, had lunch at the Pentagon just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, ABC News confirms.
Just weeks after Sept. 11, American-born radical cleric Anwar Aulaqi was invited to a private lunch at the Pentagon as part of an effort to reach out to the Muslim community. When asked by ABC News if Aulaqi had actually attended the lunch, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said, "We believe that to be true."
"We believe it was hosted by a small group within (but not including) the Department of Defense General Counsel's staff," a Pentagon spokesman tells ABC News.
Days before, Aulaqi had been interviewed by the FBI about the hijackers. The 9/11 commission report later found:
"Another potentially significant San Diego contact for [9/11 hijackers] Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat mosque. Born in New Mexico and thus a U.S. citizen, Aulaqi grew up in Yemen and studied in the United States on a Yemeni government scholarship. We do not know how or when Hazmi and Mihdhar first met Aulaqi. The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego. Hazmi and Mihdhar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him."
Aside from 9/11, Aulaqi has also been linked to the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and the Fort Hood shootings.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio