Documents released in May under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that homegrown terrorist suspect Anwar al-Awlaki used to roam the streets and halls of George Washington University and was known to elicit high-end escorts.
In what seems to be the life of a typical college student, records of New Mexico native Anwar al-Awlaki reported his movements to and from campus as well as when he had lunch. On October 10, 2001, investigators obtained his class schedule, detailing that "his first class is from 6:10-8:00 in GWU Funger Hall," a large building on 22nd and G St. This means that no more than 10 years before he was killed, the U.S. government had knowledge of his whereabouts right down to his lunch period — al-Awlaki apparently frequented the well-known Italian restaurant Bertucci's in the Foggy Bottom area.
His transcripts reveal that he was in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and frequently earned A's in courses entitled, "Theory and Design in Human Organization" and "Leadership in Human Development." Before leaving for England, and eventually Yemen, Anwar was recommended as "very, very bright, and very hard working." He brought a "unique perspective to class discussions," his Doctoral Screening Committee noted. The kind of human development that he achieved would be more unique than they first suggested.
Juxtaposed with those descriptions are his extra-curricular activities. While at San Diego state as well as in the District, al-Awlaki was known to purchase the services of expensive prostitutes. This detail simply proves just how close federal investigators were following him, as well as the dichotomy between his religion touting on-line persona, and his high-paying backroom dealings.
After September 11, 2001, investigators kept watch over Al-Awlaki’s whereabouts, but it was not long until his online tone took a shift from "peace-builder" to all out opposition. Though he continuously presented himself to the government as benevolent, his supposed connection with hijackers before 2001 ensured that many tabs were kept on him.
These documents reveal the high hopes that were had for Anwar al-Awlaki. He was to affect grand change in the field of higher education in Yemen. Government interest in him seemed to be based on this goal. Further exploration shows that FBI investigators had reason to believe that he was, in fact, affecting change in education; however, the education of whom, and in what, proved more sinister than his college statement of purpose originally described.