On 16 March 2021, Huthi TV channel Al-Masirah released the recording of a conversation between former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and then CIA director George Tenet (pictured) [1]. He is heard insisting on the immediate release of a sensitive prisoner.

According to Huthi Deputy Director of Intelligence Abdul Qader Al-Shami, this prisoner was none other than Anwar Al-Awlaki - a US national who became an Imam, having taught in the UK, before turning into the charismatic leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He was accused by the FBI of being the chief culprit for the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. Arrested on these grounds, he was then quickly released.

He was arrested again in 2006 for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a US military attache. He was then interrogated by the FBI in Yemen and released a second time. He was eventually eliminated by the CIA on 30 September 2011, after a stay with the president of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, Al-Islah.

According to a document declassified in 2013 by the FBI, at the request of Judicial Watch under FOIA, Anwar Al-Awlaki allegedly bought three plane tickets for individuals accused of being 9/11 terrorists [2]. However, the FBI did not follow up on this lead.

The exact date of the telephone interview which appears to relate to Anwar Al-Awlaki’s first arrest is unknown.

Reacting to this publication, on 18 March 2021 the Lebanese secretary general of Hezbollah (close to the Huthis), Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, once again denounced the US secret services for being the handlers of the Al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups.

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[1Houthi official: CIA asked Yemen’s Saleh to release Al-Qaeda member”, Middle East Monitor, March 18, 2021.

[2Exclusive : Cleric may have booked pre-9/11 flights for hijackers, FBI documents show”, Catherine Herridge, Fox News, January 4, 2013.