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Mar 4th, 2010

In New Video, CIA Bomber Says He Lured Targets with Doctored Intelligence

“The bait fell in the right spot, and they went head over heels with excitement,” Balawi says

Image: Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi
In a newly released posthumous video, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi says he capitalized on the “stupidity” of Jordanian and U.S. intelligence officials. (Photo credit: IntelCenter via EPA / AP)

By Joby Warrick
The Washington Post
March 1, 2010

The suicide bomber behind the Dec. 30 attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan claims in a posthumously released recording that he lured U.S. and Jordanian intelligence officers into a trap by sending them misleading information about terrorist targets as well as videotapes he made of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

The bomber, a Jordanian physician named Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, also claims that he intended to kidnap only a single Jordanian intelligence officer, but then stumbled on an unexpected opportunity to attack a large group of Americans and their Jordanian allies at once.

“It wasn’t planned this way,” Balawi says in an undated, 44-minute videotape released Sunday by as-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda. He attributes the change to “the stupidity of Jordanian intelligence and the stupidity of American intelligence” services that invited him to Afghanistan to help set up a strike against al-Qaeda targets.

The video, if authentic, would be the second recorded statement to surface in which Balawi talks of his plan to penetrate Forward Operating Base Chapman, a highly secure CIA base in eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province. A Taliban group in January released a taped message in which Balawi says he was avenging the death of Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander killed last year in a CIA missile strike.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that Balawi was a double agent who provided valuable intelligence over several months before being allowed to meet with U.S. operatives at Chapman. Six Americans and three others were killed in the deadliest attack on the U.S. intelligence agency’s staff in a quarter-century.

In the new video, the 32-year-old Balawi gives an animated account of his journey from doctor to suicide bomber, at one point brandishing what he says is a block of C4 military explosive that he intended to use in the attack. Wearing military garb and holding a rifle in his lap, he mocks his Jordanian handlers for thinking that he could be lured into spying on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“They tried to entice me with money and offered me amounts reaching into the millions of dollars,” he says, according to an English translation by IntelCenter, a private intelligence company that monitors jihadist Web sites. The Arabic-language video was provided to The Washington Post by SITE Intelligence Group, another private intelligence firm.

Balawi says the Jordanians spent thousands of dollars to settle him in Pakistan, and claims he intended from the beginning to strike a blow against the pro-U.S. Jordanian government. Balawi says he initially planned to capture or kill the Jordanian officer who served as his handler, but called off the plan. Meanwhile, he was enticing the Jordanians with videos. “The bait fell in the right spot, and they went head over heels with excitement,” Balawi says.

To further solidify his handlers’ trust, he sent coordinates of Taliban and al-Qaeda positions to the CIA, he says. Some of the information was erroneous, but Balawi says he would “throw in some accurate information which we thought the enemy probably already had knowledge of.” …


3/5/10 Update

CIA investigators believe suicide bomber was Qaeda plant from the outset (Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, March 5, 2010)


Related reports on this site

Al-Qaida’s Next High-Value Target (Jan. 18, 2010)

Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Pakistani Taliban until he was killed in a U.S. missile strike in August 2009, said in March 2008 his group was planning an attack on the White House that would “amaze” the world. … Mehsud’s death served as the apparent source of inspiration for the Jordanian suicide bomber and al-Qaeda double agent whose Dec. 30, 2009 attack at an American base in eastern Afghanistan killed seven CIA officers and contractors. In a chilling videotape released posthumously by the Pakistani Taliban and broadcast on regional TV channels, bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 32, called on Muslim holy warriors worldwide to avenge Mehsud’s death by attacking U.S. targets. … More

New Details in CIA Bombing (Jan. 10, 2010)

The Jordanian doctor arrived in a red station wagon that came directly from Pakistan and sped through checkpoints at a CIA base in Afghanistan before stopping abruptly at an improvised interrogation center. Outside stood one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda, ready to greet the doctor and hear him describe a way to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organization’s No. 2 and a man long at the top of U.S. target lists. … A sharp “CLMMMP” sound coincided with a brief flash and a small puff of smoke as thousands of steel pellets shredded glass, metal, cement and flesh in every direction. … A moment that CIA officials in Washington and Afghanistan had hoped would lead to a significant breakthrough in the fight against al-Qaeda instead became the most grievous single blow against the agency in the counterterror war. … More

Balawi Fit Suicide Bomber Profile (Jan. 5, 2010)

Based on reports by the Associated Press quoting sources familiar with Dr. Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the 32-year-old Jordanian physician who turned against his Jordanian intelligence recruiters and struck the CIA’s FOB Camp Chapman in Khost province near the Afghan-Pakistan frontier on December 30, 2009 killing seven Central Intelligence Agency employees and his Jordanian recruiter, al-Balawi matched the psychological profile of a suicide bomber. … Personal descriptions by individuals closely acquainted with al-Balawi offer a precise match for the puritanical compulsive terrorist type represented by 9/11 hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta — the unobtrusive, disciplined operative willing to sacrifice himself for a “higher cause — that I red-flagged in a confidential report to the CIA in March 2005. … More

CIA Zawahiri Team Decimated (Jan. 4, 2010)

A suicide bombing on a CIA base in Afghanistan was carried out by a Jordanian doctor who was an al-Qaida double agent. According to intelligence officials, the perpetrator was Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36. Forward Operating Base Chapman had been at the heart of overseeing a covert program for selecting al-Qaida and Taliban targets for drone aircraft strikes. … More


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 4, 2009

Republican Leaders Cower


Steele, Limbaugh in GOP spat (MSNBC, March 3, 2009) — Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele apologizes to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd and the ‘Morning Joe’ team listen and analyze the latest spat within the Republican Party. (07:12)

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that two days after calling conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh a mere “entertainer” with an “incendiary” talk show, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele apologized and acknowledged Limbaugh as a “national conservative leader” in a spat that raised questions about the leadership of the GOP.

6 Responses to “CIA Bomber’s Tangled Web”
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