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
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients
2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime
2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’
2014 07 30
Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
2014 07 30
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...
|More News » |