CIA suicide bomber promised Zawahiri

After days of rumors swirling around the identity of the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents and a Jordanian intelligence official on Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province on Dec. 30, the mystery seems to have been solved. The Jordanian intelligence agent recruited a Jordanian doctor who was a known jihadist. The bomber provided the bait that drew CIA officers from Kabul – purported information on the whereabouts on Ayman al Zawahiri. From ABC News:

The suicide bomber that killed some of the CIA’s top al Qaeda hunters lured the agents to the meeting by claiming he had just met with Ayman al Zawahiri, this country’s most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, sources told ABC News today.

The informant-turned-bomber, a 36-year-old Jordanian doctor named Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al-Balawi, told officials he had just met with al Zawahiri and had intelligence to share. Al-Balawi had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence to get information on al Zawahiri, sources told ABC News.

The promise of getting a bead on Zawahiri prompted one of the CIA’s top analysts to travel last week from Kabul to the remote CIA listening post at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the middle of Taliban country near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Al Balawi had been to Chapman previously and because of the information he was promising, CIA officers told Afghan guards to allow him past the first of three checkpoints without searching him. They also told the guards to vacate the area, sources told ABC News.

When al Balawi detonated his bomb, he assassinated seven CIA operatives and the Jordanian intelligence officer who recruited him out of a Jordanian prison cell.

Balawi had lived in a refugee camp near the city of Zarqa, the home of al Qaeda’s butcher in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The Balawi tribe is celebrating the suicide attack:

While the U.S. and Jordan mourned their deaths, a Web site from al-Balawi’s tribe described him today as a hero and said it was the most devastating attack against the CIA in the last 30 years.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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9 Comments

  • T Ruth says:

    Would the CIA believe that any of its US national operatives could be “turned”?
    Why then would they believe that a hardened jihadist like this could be turned?
    Astonishing lack of judgment.
    Sadly the whole situation indicates the US desperation in getting to bin Laden, Zawahiri and Co. Not a good sign at all.

  • Marlin says:

    I wonder if we will ever know all the twists and turns associated with this incident. Clearly, there is more than meets the eye.

    Once in Afghanistan, al-Balawi provided valuable intelligence information that helped foil al-Qaida terror plots on Jordan, the officials said. His Jordanian recruiters then offered al-Balawi to their CIA allies as someone who would help them capture or kill al-Zawahri.
    A former senior U.S. intelligence official said al-Balawi had provided high-quality intelligence that established his credibility with Jordanian and U.S. intelligence.
    […]
    The 32-year-old doctor’s allegiance was to al-Qaida from the start, however, and not to his Jordanian recruiters or their CIA friends – and it never wavered, a Middle East counterterrorism official told The Associated Press.
    He and two other counterterrorism officials gave identical accounts of how and when Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was recruited.

    Associated Press: CIA bomber coerced to work for Jordan spy agency

  • T Ruth says:

    Bill,
    Any credibility to Shahzad’s report of Lashkar al Zil’s involvement and an ANA implant? He doesn’t mention a Jordanian connection at all…
    //atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LA05Df01.html
    Could everyone else have got it wrong? I doubt it.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    I agree with your concern TRuth. I hope that this Administration isn’t hoping to find Zawahiri through some “hail mary” outreach, call it victory, then wipe their hands of further messy and unpopular ongoing engagements in the region. This is a pernicious ideological movement we’re at war with, not any particular individual be it bin Laden, Zawahiri, Omar, Haqqani etc.

  • Mr T says:

    “The Balawi tribe is celebrating the suicide attack:”
    Sounds like the Balawi tribe has notified us they are our enemy. They support our known enemies financially, and militarily by supporting a member who kills Americans. They probably support the jihad financially, logistically, etc as well.
    They should get a visit from the authorities, and I don’t mean a nice visit, but we are too politically correct to do anything about it. So more Americans will die while our enemy hides in plain sight. I think maybe more Balawis should die. Maybe that would dampen some of their enthusiasm over this event.

  • RR says:

    So he was actually a Palestinian (family from the West Bank), since he lived in a refugee camp. And his handler was probably Bedouin, since he was related to the King.

  • SWT says:

    I don’t understand why we don’t mandate strip searching for all meetings involving all non CIA personnel….like you will be virtually in your underwear if you want to sit down or gather in a meeting room. Why take any chance whatsoever with anyone who isn’t a 100% certifiable good guy? Even then, can you really ever trust someone who you recruit? What a messy business….

  • T Ruth says:

    Arne:
    “This is a pernicious ideological movement we’re at war with, not any particular individual be it bin Laden, Zawahiri, Omar, Haqqani etc.”
    I agree.
    If bin Laden were to be killed today, i fear that it would almost better serve this barbarous movement giving greater longevity to his “legend” a la Che Guevara.
    My guess is that he’s already dead and buried.
    Zawahiri, is as devoid of all charisma as he is dangerous. So he and the others need to be taken out.
    But yes, its this whole ideological movement that needs to be pulled out from its roots.
    What worries me is that many of the branches of these roots lead to Pakistan (remember the first tranche of jihadists made-in-pakistan were intended for Kashmir) and while the US is planning to start pulling back from Afghanistan next year, there isn’t even a coherrent strategy in place on how this war is going to be fought in Pakistan. And all JIHADISTAN ROADS LEAD TO PAKISTAN.
    Today i read this article titled “Zardari drops Kashmir-bomb, says ready for ‘1000-yr ideological war’ with India” where Zardari is beginning to sound more like Zawahiri.
    //timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Zardari-drops-Kashmir-bomb-says-ready-for-1000-yr-ideological-war-with-India/articleshow/5418014.cms
    Finally, Pakistan’s nuclear bombs are as dangerous as the human bombs of this movement. Its the combination that makes it the Islamic Bomb (although i read that some devices may be stored in Saudi Arabia). Maybe i’m naive but the UN doesn’t seem to be even talking about it…
    What happens if there is a nuclear 911 tomorrow?

  • David says:

    Just out in the news today on Fox, his wife is proud of what her husband has been able to do. Boy this whole story really makes our intelligences look weak and desperate, to fall for such a blatant action by our enemies.

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