Hakeemullah Mehsud (left), the Leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi (right), the suicide bomber who carried out the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.
The al Qaeda operative who killed seven US CIA operatives and guards, and a Jordanian intelligence official, was on a martyr’s videotape with the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, a Jordanian Islamist who was thought to have been turned against al Qaeda, appeared on a videotape with Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. On the tape, Balawi said he carried out the suicide attack to avenge the death of Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah’s predecessor, who was killed in a US airstrike in South Waziristan on Aug. 5.
“We will never forget the blood of our emir Baitullah Mehsud,” Balawi said. “We will always demand revenge for him inside America and outside. It is an obligation of the emigrants who were welcomed by the emir [Baitullah].” The video was played on Al Jazeera and was also uploaded to YouTube sites.
Balawi’s appearance with Hakeemullah bolsters the claims made by the Pakistani Taliban, which said it was behind the attack. Qari Hussain Mehsud, a senior deputy to Hakeemullah and an expert in training and plotting suicide attacks, said last week that the Movement of the Taliban carried out the strike against the CIA base at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province, Afghanistan.
A few days after Qari Hussain Mehsud claimed the attack, Mustafa abu Yazid, al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan, issued a statement saying that Balawi, who is also known as Dr. Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, carried out the attack to avenge the deaths of Abdullah Said al Libi, the leader of the Lashkar al Zil or Shadow Army; Saleh al Somali, al Qaeda’s former external operations chief; and Baitullah.
“[This attack was carried out] to avenge our righteous martyrs, as he [Khurasani/Balawi] (may God have mercy on him) wrote in his will: ‘To avenge the leader, Amir Baitullah Mehsud, the leaders Abu Saleh al Somali and Abdullah Said al Libi, and their brothers (may God have mercy on them),'” Yazid said in a statement released on the Internet.
Qari Hussain’s claim of responsibility for the attack at COP Chapman was dismissed by Western officials. It now seems clear, however, that the attack was a joint operation between the Haqqani Network, which is established in Khost; al Qaeda, which likely recruited Balawi; and the Pakistani Taliban, which provided the logistics and training for Balawi.
“This operation is the perfect example of how the Taliban and al Qaeda cooperate and conduct operations,” a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “We’re making a mistake by thinking such clear lines exist between the groups; they work much more closely than is commonly thought.”
Balawi apparently lured the CIA operatives by promising to provide intelligence on the location of Ayman al Zawahir, according to reports. CIA officers from Kabul came to Khost to be present at the briefing.
Balawi was driven to Khost by his Jordanian intelligence contact and handler. He detonated the bomb just prior to being searched, The Washington Post reported, which had devastating results.
“Virtually everyone within sight of the suicide bomb died immediately, including the CIA al-Qaeda expert; a 30-year-old CIA analyst; an interpreter and two other CIA officers; the two contract guards; the Jordanian’s handler and the car’s driver,” the The Washington Post reported. “At least six others standing in the carport and nearby were wounded by pellets that had first perforated the vehicle, including the CIA’s second-in-command inside Afghanistan, who is now reportedly fighting for his life.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.