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CIA bomber was a triple agent

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian informant who lured intelligence officers into a trap by promising new information about Al Qaeda’s top leadership, former US government officials said.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2010 23:55 IST

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian informant who lured intelligence officers into a trap by promising new information about Al Qaeda’s top leadership, former US government officials said.

The attacker, a physician-turned-mole, had been recruited to infiltrate Al Qaeda’s senior circles and had gained the trust of his CIA and Jordanian handlers with a stream of useful intelligence leads, according to two former senior officials briefed on the agency’s internal investigation.

His track record as an informant allowed him to enter a key CIA post without a thorough search, the sources said.

The bomber, identified as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was standing just outside an agency building on the base on Wednesday when he exploded a bomb hidden under his clothes, killing the seven Americans along with a Jordanian officer who had been assigned to work with him.

Six CIA operatives were wounded.

The agency has declined to publicly identify the victims, a mix of career officers and contractors with backgrounds ranging from law enforcement to military Special Forces.

Details about the suicide bomber’s identity provided jarring insight into how a vital intelligence post in eastern Afghanistan was penetrated in the deadliest attack on the CIA in more than 25 years. Initial reports suggested that the bomber was an Afghan soldier.

Instead, the new evidence points to a carefully planned act of deception by a trusted operative from a country closely allied with the United States in the fight against Al Qaeda.

US and Jordanian officials had come to regard Balawi as trustworthy, former officials said, despite a history of support for Islamic extremism a view that he appeared to support in an interview with an Al Qaeda affiliated publication as recently as this past fall.

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