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'CIA Afghan base bomber was Qaeda triple agent'

world Updated: Jan 05, 2010 18:49 IST

A suicide bomber who killed eight people at a CIA base in Afghanistan was an Al-Qaeda triple agent who duped Western intelligence services for months before turning on his handlers, jihadist websites boasted on Tuesday.

The Jordanian intelligence services had brought the bomber to eastern Afghanistan with the mission of finding Al-Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, believing he was their double agent, jihadist websites and Western intelligence agents cited by US media said.

But instead he blew himself up at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the Pakistani border, killing seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler, a top intelligence officer and member of the royal family.

Jordanian media gave no details of how Captain Ali bin Zeid died even though King Abdullah II, Queen Rania and virtually the whole royal family turned up at his funeral.

The slain officer's family said that Bin Zeid had been in Afghanistan for 20 days and had been due to return home on December 30, the day he was killed. but even on Monday, officials continued to deny any Jordanian involvement in the international coalition there.

Both jihadist websites and Western intelligence agents cited by US network NBC News identified the bomber as Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi alias Abu Dujana al-Khorasani.

Balawi was arrested in late 2007 and then recruited as a double agent by the Jordanian intelligence services but in reality continued to work for Al-Qaeda, they said.

He ran a blog, http://abudujanakharasani.maktoobblog.com/, on which he posted calls for jihad -- holy war -- and martyrdom, that the Jordanian authorities presumably regarded as cover for the role of double agent.

The blog was still available on Monday but was inaccessible on Tuesday.

"He spent months travelling between Afghanistan and Pakistan and fed the Americans the information that the Mujahedeen (jihadists) wanted them to receive," the Ana Muslim ("I am a Muslim" in Arabic) website boasted.

"Every time that the reports which he gave proved accurate, their confidence in Abu Dujana rose."

Balawi was taken to the CIA base in Khost because he claimed to have urgent information about Zawahiri, the website said.

He was not searched as he went in because a CIA agent boasted: "He is our man, so there is no need," the website claimed.

The bomber then pretended to detail plans for a mooted operation on a piece of paper and asked the intelligence agents to gather round to look before blowing himself up, the website said.

Jordanian Islamist sources said that Balawi, 36, was a doctor by profession and a married father of two.

He was born in the impoverished Amman satellite city of Zarqa, hometown of Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who became infamous for a series of videotaped beheadings of Western hostages before his death in a US air strike in June 2006.

There was no immediate confirmation of any links between the two men.

Western diplomats said that the revelation of Jordanian involvement in a US intelligence operation in Afghanistan was a blow for the Amman government.

"Jordan is likely to be embarrassed by the fact that Captain Ali's death has revealed its cooperation with the CIA, which is not going to go down well with a predominantly anti-American public opinion," one Western diplomat told AFP.

On Monday, Information Minister Nabil Sharif rejected as "baseless" reports that the bomber was Jordanian and again denied a Jordanian role in the coalition operations in Afghanistan.

"Jordanian intelligence services are not involved in any such operation," Sharif said.

He was not immediately available on Tuesday for renewed comment.

Jordan's official Petra news agency said only that Bin Zeid had "given his life in the cause of duty." It gave no details at all of the location or circumstances of his death.

The deaths of the seven agents in Khost marked the US Central Intelligence Agency's worst single loss of life since the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.