A Jordanian spy sent to Afghanistan to search for top Al Qaeda leaders apparently succeeded in his mission – but upon reaching his objective, he became a double agent and turned on his own people.
The double agent murdered a fellow Jordanian and seven CIA operatives in a suicide bombing last Wednesday at a meeting being held at the CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman in southeastern Afghanistan. He had not been searched when he entered the base; the American security guards trusted him, seeing him with the Jordanian operative with whom they were familiar, and knowing that he had important information to share with them.
They believed him to be an informant who would deliver the top Al Qaeda leaders into their hands. Instead, 36-year-old Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi donned an explosives belt prior to entering the base and detonated it at the meeting, killing all those around him.
The base is being used as the nerve center for operations against the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Haqqani guerrilla network in Afghanistan, where the terrorists slip across the border into safe houses in Pakistan. Later, a Pakistani Taliban source who called a news agency named him as Humam Khalil Mohammed.
Al-Balawi, a Jordanian physician came from the same town that spawned Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of the al Qaeda network in Iraq who was assassinated by U.S. forces in an air strike in 2006.
Al-Balawi, a known al Qaeda sympathizer, was recruited by Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate, a CIA ally, while serving time in a Jordanian prison after being arrested more than a year ago.
He was originally brought to Afghanistan as a Jordanian spy to infiltrate the international Al Qaeda terrorist network by posing as a foreign jihad fighter. Admired by jihadist web surfers as a top jihadi on the World Wide Web, he often posted Internet harangues against the United States war in Afghanistan and Iraq using a false name.
The Jordanian government has been deeply embarrassed by the publicity surrounding the incident, according to a number of diplomatic sources. Much of the discomfort is due to the exposure of its discreet cooperation with the CIA, which it has tried to hide from its own citizens, more than half of whom are Palestinians, and other Arab countries.
The official Jordanian news agency issued a terse announcement of the death of the second Jordanian operative, Captain Sharif Ali bin Zeid, saying he was killed in action last Wednesday as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda Alive and Well in Jordan?
Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorism has infiltrated deep into Jordan. A group linked to the international terrorist organization was deemed responsible for a bloody attack on a Christian choir in Amman in July 2008. Six people were wounded, including four Lebanese musicians, when a gunman opened fire on a tour bus carrying passengers from a university choir.
Twelve Jordanians of Palestinian ancestry, led by 28-year-old al Qaeda-linked mastermind Shaker Khatib, were put on trial after a months-long investigation. If convicted, members of the group could be put to death.
In August 2005, Jordanian authorities arrested 17 al Qaeda-linked terrorists who had plotted to attack U.S. military personnel.
All of the terrorists were Jordanians from the Sweileh neighborhood of Amman, recruited by al-Zarqawi to help him bring in Arab terrorists to fight U.S. troops in Iraq.