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U.S. Reports Say CIA Bomber Was Al-Qaeda Double Agent

January 05, 2010

U.S. media reports say the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan last week was an Al-Qaeda double-agent.

The bomber is said to have been a Jordanian who was arrested by the country's intelligence service more than a year ago.

He was then reportedly working for Jordanian intelligence with a mission to infiltrate Al-Qaeda's top leadership.

He is believed to have been working undercover in Afghanistan before detonating a bomb at a CIA base on December 30.

The attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in eastern Afghanistan's Khost Province killed seven CIA employees and a Jordanian intelligence officer.

Citing a former intelligence official, the Associated Press said the dead included four CIA officers and three contracted security guards.

U.S. media reports, quoting Western intelligence officials, identified the attacker as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, said to have been a 36-year-old doctor from Zarqa, Jordan. Zarqa is the hometown of slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

NBC News, which first broke the story, said Balawi (known online as Abu Dujanah al-Khurasani) had moderated the now-defunct "Al-Hesbah" forum, previously Al-Qaeda's main chat forum, before his arrest.

Jordan's intelligence service then recruited him as an agent, giving him the specific mission of locating the group's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The report said Balawi was invited to Camp Chapman because he was offering urgent information to track down Zawahri.

"The Washington Post" reported that Balawi was picked up in a car outside the base and driven in without being thoroughly searched.

Reports say the Jordanian officer who died in last week's attack was Balawi's reporting officer. He was identified as Captain Ali bin Zeid, a member of the Jordanian royal family.

Jordanian authorities did not confirm the bomber was Jordanian, nor that Zeid was working for the country's intelligence agency.

Following the attack, Jordan's official Petra news agency quoted a Jordanian military spokesman as saying Zeid was killed "as a martyr while performing the sacred duty of the Jordanian forces in Afghanistan" and provided no further details about his death.

NATO's website lists seven Jordanian troops serving with the alliance-led force in Afghanistan.

The CIA also declined to comment on the reports, which came as the U.S. military's intelligence chief in Afghanistan sharply criticized the work of U.S. intelligence agencies there.

In a report published on January 4 by the Center for New American Security think tank, Major General Michael Flynn said U.S. intelligence in Afghanistan was still "unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they are trying to protect and persuade."

Flynn described U.S. intelligence officials there as "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced."

compiled from agency reports


Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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