The FBI knew within days that US born Anwar al-Awlaki purchased the plane tickets of three of the hijackers. This information was retrieved by Judicial Watch via a FOIA request.
Why wasn’t this information divulged to the public earlier?
I’d like to think that from now on if someone on a watch list purchases plane tickets for someone other than themselves, it would be investigated.
From Homeland Security News Wire (unofficial?):
Within two weeks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FBI investigators had information that New Mexico-born jihadi cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had purchased air travel tickets for some of the hijackers; the information is contained in newly released, and heavily redacted, FBI documents; it appears that after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI, rather than arrest al-Awlaki, tried to work with him or track him for intelligence purposes, to see whether he would lead the agency to sleeping-cell terrorists still in the United States; Al-Awlaki was killed by a CIA drone attack in Yemen in September 2011
Fox News reports that the heavily redacted records, obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of information Act (FOIA) request, suggest that by 17 September 2001, the FBI had obtained documents which connected al-Awlaki to the hijackers.
“We have FBI documents showing that the FBI knew that al-Awlaki had bought three tickets for three of the hijackers to fly into Florida and into Las Vegas, including the lead hijacker, Mohammad Atta,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told Fox News (and see Judicial Watch release).
Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a CIA drone attack in Yemen in September 2011, “was a central focus of the FBI’s investigation of 9/11. They show he wasn’t cooperative. And they show that he was under surveillance,” Fitton said.
The FBI records show that al-Awlaki used his credit cards to purchase tickets for at least three of the 9/11 terrorist — Mohammed Atta, Satam al-Suqami, and Waleed al-Shehri (or his brother Wail al-Shehri) – for flights within the United States in the days leading up to the attack.