As reported by ABC News, the warrant for Awlaki, an al Qaeda recruiter and self-described "confidant" of alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, was rescinded a day before Awlaki was intercepted as a terror suspect at JFK airport in New York in October 2002. Authorities had to release him, and he soon left the country for Yemen.
The warrant would have given terror investigators the right to hold Awlaki, who was on a terror watch list, on charges of felony passport fraud. "It was a determination of our office that we couldn't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and we asked the court to withdraw the complaint," Gaouette, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, told ABC News. Gaouette, who in 2002 was the assistant U.S. attorney who supervised the Awlaki case, said he took responsibility for rescinding the warrant.
Gaouette also said that Awlaki's terrorism-related background had no bearing on the decision to drop the case. He said he could not continue with a case just "because someone has a bad reputation."
ABC News' Joseph Rhee contributed to this report.