Reports: Suicide Bomber at US Base in Afghanistan Was al-Qaida Double Agent
VOA News 05 January 2010
U.S. media say a suicide bomber who attacked a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian working as an al-Qaida double agent.
The reports say current and former Western intelligence officials identified the suicide bomber as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year-old al-Qaida sympathizer from Zarqa, Jordan.
U.S. network NBC says Jordanian authorities arrested al-Balawi more than a year ago and later recruited him to infiltrate al-Qaida, believing he had been successfully reformed. The CIA declined to comment on the reports.
The bombing last Wednesday at the CIA base in Afghanistan's Khost province killed seven CIA employees and a Jordanian officer.
The U.S. military's intelligence chief in Afghanistan has criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies operating there, saying they are "ignorant" and out of touch with the Afghan people.
General Michael Flynn says U.S. intelligence efforts have focussed too much on gathering information about insurgent groups in Afghanistan.
He says U.S. intelligence has been unable to inform U.S. and NATO forces about the environment in which they operate and the Afghan people whom they seek to persuade.
His comments were published in a report issued Monday by a U.S. research institute, the Center for New American Security.
The bodies of the seven CIA employees killed in the Khost attack arrived Monday at a U.S. Air Force base in the East Coast state of Delaware. A small, private ceremony was held at the base, attended by friends and family and CIA Director Leon Panetta.
The bombing was the second-deadliest attack in the U.S. intelligence agency's history. In a statement, CIA spokesman George Little described the fallen employees as "patriots who courageously served their nation."
Jordan's state news agency identified the Jordanian officer killed in the bombing as Sharif Ali bin Zaid. It says he was killed while "performing the sacred duty of Jordanian forces in Afghanistan." NATO says Jordan has seven troops in Afghanistan.
NBC News says Bin Zaid was an intelligence agent and a first cousin of Jordan's King Abdullah. Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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