Birthday cake awaited suicide blast - Bizarre Bombing with unanswered questions
2010 03 25
By Eileen Sullivan and Matt Apuzzo | News.Yahoo.com
CIA officers in Afghanistan were so eager to meet the spy they believed would help them crack al-Qaida’s leadership they planned a birthday celebration for his visit in December, current and former U.S. officials said.
A birthday cake was waiting.
But before they could even begin to question their golden source, he detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and seven CIA employees in one of the deadliest attacks in the agency’s history.
Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year-old doctor who had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials, was really a double agent.
The account of the planned birthday gathering is the latest evidence that CIA officials at the Afghan base trusted the Jordanian and wanted to build rapport with him. It was confirmed by current and former officials briefed on the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
This undated file image provided Friday, Jan. 8, 2009 by Jordan’s Al-Ghad newspaper, purports to show Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the suspected Jordanian double agent who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan on Dec. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Al-Ghad, ho, File)
The bombing not only weakened U.S. intelligence operations, it touched off a sometimes contentious debate within the close-knit intelligence community about whether such emotions led the CIA to be too lax with its security.
CIA Director Leon Panetta has scoffed at suggestions that security lapses were to blame for the attack. But it remains unclear why there was such a large contingent around al-Balawi when the bomb erupted.
It’s not unusual for CIA officers to offer gestures such as a birthday cake or a small gift for spies they are overseeing, former intelligence officials said. Such gestures lighten the mood and take some of the pressure off. And they tell an informant that he’s important.
"Normally, though, that’s something you do after you’ve established a relationship," said former CIA and National Security Council official Bruce Riedel, who was not aware of the CIA’s birthday plans for al-Balawi. "It’s not something you do on the first date."
Such celebrations are typically discreet, small affairs of one or two officers. In this case, many officials were nearby when al-Balawi arrived at the base. Seven were killed and six others were wounded.
In an interview made public after his death, al-Balawi said he knew in advance that he was meeting "an entire CIA team." He said he had been planning to kidnap or kill his Jordanian intelligence contact, but the chance to take out CIA officers was too tempting.
"We planned for something but got a bigger gift, a gift from Allah, who brought us, through his accompaniment, a valuable prey: Americans, and from the CIA," al-Balawi said. "That’s when I became certain that the best way to teach Jordanian intelligence and the CIA a lesson is with the martyrdom belt."
Al-Balawi’s contacts with Jordanian intelligence, one of the CIA’s most trusted partners in the Middle East, gave him credibility. He was thought to have critical intelligence about al-Qaida’s No. 2 official, Ayman al-Zawahri. He was not searched.
Shortly after the attack, Panetta pushed back against criticism that poor spycraft was to blame.
"That’s like saying Marines who die in a firefight brought it upon themselves because they have poor war-fighting skills," Panetta wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece.
Robert Baer, a former top Middle East CIA operative, heaped criticism on the agency in this month’s GQ magazine. Baer said the top officer at the base "was in over her head" and never should have let so many people meet the source.
"Informants should always be met one-on-one," Baer wrote. "Always."
CIA spokesman George Little had harsh words for former employees who criticized the agency from retirement.
"They don’t have all the facts of this case, yet they criticize those who were on the front lines on Dec. 30, including some whose lives were taken. That’s disgraceful," Little said.
"Informed criticism can be very valuable," he said. "Some of the junk I’ve seen in the press clearly isn’t."
Article from: News.Yahoo.com
Video from: YouTube.com
Intelligence services ‘manipulated’ Jordan bomber
Attacker in Afghanistan Was a Double Agent
Latest News from our Front Page
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17.
From the U.S. Army in Europe website:
Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria.
A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us.
At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account.
Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy.
The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade.
Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families
By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian
Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday.
The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria.
A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
|More News » |