January 6, 2010
Triple agent was 'CIA's best hope for years'
Rana Sabbagh-Gargourin in Amman
The Jordanian suicide bomber who killed several CIA agents in Afghanistan last week was so highly regarded by Western intelligence that the White House had been told to expect important information from his debriefing, it was reported today.
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, a Jordanian doctor, had been recommended to the Americans by Jordanian intelligence as a reliable informant spying on the al-Qaeda leadership, according to the New York Times.
He was seen by the CIA and the US Administration as the American intelligence agencies' best hope of tracking down Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leaders of al-Qaeda.
This would explain why there were eight people present in the room with Mr al-Balawi to hear his debriefing. According to former CIA officials, debriefings are usually attended by only one or two intelligence staff.
"He had provided information that checked out, about people in al-Qaeda whom he had access to," a senior intelligence official, told the newspaper. "This was one of the agency’s most promising efforts."
In fact, al-Balawi was not a double but a triple agent, leading an extraordinary life on the frontline of America’s war against militant Islam.
An investigation by The Times has revealed that the trainee doctor was an open and public supporter of al-Qaeda, and that his months of secret work for Jordanian intelligence, feeding a stream of information about low-level al-Qaeda operatives to his handler, was a means to establish his credibility.
On December 30 al-Balawi arrived at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the Pakistan border. He was trusted sufficiently to be allowed past a security checkpoint without being searched.
He detonated explosives strapped to his body and killed four CIA agents, three CIA security officers, and his Jordanian handler, Ali bin Zaid, an army captain and distant cousin of King Abdullah II of Jordan. The King, his wife, and other members of the Jordanian royal family attended Mr bin Zaid’s funeral on Friday.
The chain of events began a few months ago, when al-Balawi contacted Jordan's spy agency, the General Intelligence Department (GID), with tips that proved valuable. A Jordanian official admitted yesterday that the information on al-Qaeda operatives in the kingdom had "allowed us to abort a terrorist operation that would have threatened the security and stability of our country".
On the face of it al-Balawi seemed a valuable recruit. Born in Kuwait on December 25, 1977, he moved to Jordan with his family after Iraq invaded in 1991 — a time when many Jordanians were forced to flee the emirate. His father owns two pharmacies in Zarqa in Jordan, also the home town of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in 2006.
The al-Balawi Bedu tribe is from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, and has branches in Jordan, the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula.
According to records of the Jordan Medical Association, al-Balawi graduated from Istanbul University in 2002. He then worked as an intern in two hospitals, one run by the Muslim Brotherhood charity. He went on to practise medicine at a clinic in a Palestinian refugee camp near Zarqa.
Al-Balawi became attracted to militant Islam and moderated the online radical Islamic forum, Hisbah.net, based in Yemen, often saying that his ultimate dream in life was to die as a martyr in the holy war against the US and Israel.
In an interview on September 26 last year al-Balawi said he had "been moulded on the love for jihad since my childhood". He vowed to "take up arms, and to wear an explosive belt, to avenge the killing of children and women in the Gaza War".
He also said that he decided to leave his pro-jihadist writings in favour of "real jihad on the ground, because I came to realise that preaching about jihad is not enough ... You have to carry out jihad in practice."
He said that he hoped to meet all jihadist writers who shared his vision and contributed to jihadist websites "in al-Fardous" — the Arabic for Paradise.
To Jordanian intelligence, these jihadi credentials must have seemed the perfect cover. The GID checked al-Balawi out and decided that he was genuine. The official said that al-Balawi had been interrogated by officers from the GID in March 2009 because of suspicions about his activities. He had been released because the inquiry found "nothing relevant".
"Months later he contacted us via e-mail and provided information about ill intentions against Jordan, and allowed us to foil terrorist operations targeting the kingdom. So we decided to pursue our contacts with him on a friendly basis to safeguard our country," the official told The Times.
Jihadist websites, however, revealed that al-Balawi was working for his handlers' enemies. They said that the GID, believing the bomber to be its double agent, took him to eastern Afghanistan, to help to track Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician said to be second-in-command of al-Qaeda, who US intelligence officials believe is hiding in the lawless border region.
Jordan has had strong intelligence co-operation with the CIA since the 9/11 attacks. Its counter-terror teams operating inside Iraq helped US forces in 2006 to track and kill al-Zarqawi. It is thought that Jordan believed al-Balawi could help the US to trap and kill al-Zawahiri.
Mohammad Abu Rumman, a prominent Jordanian analyst of radical Islamic movements, said that al-Balawi, a member of the younger generation of jihadists, was heavily influenced by Osama bin Laden, al-Zarqawi, the US-led war on Iraq and the Israeli attack against Gaza in 2008.
"He is one of the key al-Qaeda spokesmen," said Abu Rumman. "He always called for jihad against the Americans and the Israelis." Jihadist websites said al-Balawi was also nicknamed "the doctor of Mujahidin". They said that he was the first Arab to join the Taleban in Pakistan.
Al-Balawi, also known as Abu Dujana al-Khorasani, was married to a Turkish woman, said by relatives to be a journalist, and had two young daughters. His immediate family lives in Nuzha, a mixed middle and working-class neighbourhood in Amman.
A high school friend, Mohammad Yousef, said al-Balawi told family and friends in March that he was going to Turkey to take an exam that would have allowed him to practise medicine in the US. Instead, he went to Afghanistan, where he joined other Arab fighters with al-Qaeda.
East is East, and West is West, and ne'er the twain shall meet.ReplyDelete
We have no fucking clue what type of people we're dealing with, here.
Well if the Kingdom of Jordan was fooled, and Jordan is one of "those people" then give the CIA a break.ReplyDelete
By the way, Rufus, there's no way we have a booming economy by next fall. When the dot-com "Clinton" recession ended, supposedly in November of 2001, employment did not recover long term until nearly two years later, and that was a mild one by comparison.
He was a FUCKING Palestinian...ReplyDelete
Blogger Gag Reflex said...ReplyDelete
"For Ash and his Jet Stream theory:"
ChaChaopya (guess on spelling) suggested that the path of the jet stream is a function of where the warm and cold air masses sit as opposed to determining their position. In any case listing various cold weather events doesn't really tell us much of anything regarding long term trends.
Pretty damn cold here - mind you with it being January in Canada it is kind of hard to get much else.
I would have sworn someone once mentioned that one of the great benefits or our cutural diversification program was that we would have a unique insight and a richer human base to deal with the world.ReplyDelete
Still we have to go to Jordan to outsource our spying which we are told is necessary for our survival.
How did that work out?
In a way, you're right, T. But it's all kind of "relative," isn't it?ReplyDelete
99% of Americans can't tell you what the unemployment rate is; but they can tell you if the local factory is hiring.
EIA oil inventories coming out in a minute. It amazes me how people try to trade this number.ReplyDelete
Because I have a worthless reputation to protect:ReplyDelete
"I found that spin hard to accept..."
WTF? What "spin"? Since when is expressing an opinion "spin," you old jackass?
I said that it's my guess she was new to clandestine operations specifically - a new case officer, as it were - with the majority of her professional experience being in other facets of the intelligence world, whether with the Agency or other organizations.
Saying that she was "following al Qaeda and bin Laden since '97," if near true, doesn't tell us in what capacity (year in/year out there are hundreds and hundreds involved in "following" in some capacity or another, stretching from Bumfuck, Nowhere back to the Mothership) and it sure as hell wasn't in THAT capacity.
Chapman was ate up and for some at the Agency to now say, "Our people can't meet offsite because if they did they'd be killed," is hooey. They don't like to meet offsite, which is why they rely so heavily on the military, who's willing to do it.
So, they wanted to bring him on, he was on the base proper prior to search and in close proximity to at least 13 others, including COB and Deputy Chief of Station. Deputy Chief of Station, for crying out loud. A fucking greeting party.
It just boggles the mind.
As I said last night, the more I think about it, the more depressing it gets.
Well. That's my rant for the day.ReplyDelete
Four hours of sleep and two cups of really bad coffee (the man responsible for that thinks coffee isn't coffee unless you can pave a road with it) does not for a pleasant human being make.
since stone age till 2000 , had given us double agents .......10 years ,,,, minus on day ,,into 21 century .. started with triple ,,may be more agent,,,welcome to digital,,i think i can say,,give me triple agent. i give u ground beef....ReplyDelete
salam,,,,,shalom,,,peace ,,or what the fuck it is .........and to what is occupation,,,ya he is afuckin palestenian,,,,arios amigo...