CIA Suspected Bomber Was Double Agent
Last December, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal Al-Balawi was invited onto a small US outpost in Khost, Afghanistan. It was Camp Chapman, a CIA-run base, and the Jordanian Al-Balawi was the agency's hot new asset: a doctor with Al Qaeda ties who could lead Americans to Osama bin Laden's second-in-command.
But Al-Balawi carried a host of secrets, and an explosive vest. Once he was close enough to a crowd of CIA officers, he blew himself up, killing seven Americans and a Jordanian spy. Follow-up reporting showed he'd never abandoned his Islamist loyalties: He'd instead posed as a double agent. "This is a message to the enemies of the nation," he said in a video released to Al Jazeera after his death. "To the Jordanian intelligence and the American Central Intelligence Agency."
In an unusual feat of candor, CIA Director Leon Panetta told reporters Tuesday that the agency had its doubts about Balawi's loyalties before his attack. In interviews and a press release, Panetta shared details of an internal CIA report on the incident: A Jordan-based officer for the agency "received warnings" that Balawi might try to kill Americans three weeks before he succeeded, but he kept the information to himself, and Balawi was shoddily vetted. One reason: Junior CIA officers were excited about his promises to lead them to Ayman Al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who is bin Laden's right-hand man.