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The Jordanian bomber who destroyed a CIA forward operating base in Afghanistan

In any war against terrorism, it is not only the military who takes action. It is the intelligence agencies who play a profound role in this war, whether this be civilian agencies such as the CIA, or military intelligence. These agencies have access to huge amount of funds, have access to the latest of technology, and are also responsible for direct action (which could be action in the form of disinformation campaigns or gathering information, or could be targeted action such as assassination or the use of drones for killing terrorists who otherwise could not be attacked). Imagine a huge wild area where you cannot send your agents, but where you know that terrorists are staying and constantly plotting to do harm. And you can see them through powerful cameras on drone surveillance planes that constantly fly overhead and from which you cannot hide so easily.
A few years back, the US (in the form of the CIA) introduced its unmanned drones that were capable of firing missiles; but it is difficult to know at whom to fire this missiles. Part of getting the information about who and what to fire the missiles comes from the videos that these planes take which are analysed, but a lot more of the information is gathered from informants and other means of getting information; a lot of this information is gathered from CIA forward operating bases such as the one at Base Chapman, near the Afghanistan city of Kost.
This was a huge blow to the CIA, since the people killed were those who were deeply involved in targeting the Al-Qaeda leadership as well as the Haqqani network, and it was known for some time that they were likely to retaliate. And now it seems that they finally succeeded. However, the art of running intelligence operations in dangerous and hostile locations is difficult. You need to ensure that your operatives do not be out of base too much, and hence you need to get your agents back to the base to de-brief; further, in the world of informants and prickly egos, once you trust someone, there is an implicit expectation that you need to show your trust. Putting in place detailed security measures may be necessary for retaining the trust of these people but makes it more difficult to show that you have their trust.


The person who managed to get inside the CIA base and kill these many CIA operatives was a Jordanian doctor who managed to convince both the Jordanian intelligence agency and the CIA that he would bring in valuable information was named Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. From recent comments by his wife and deconstruction of his life, it would seem pretty evident that the doctor has a hatred for the US, and there was no way for the person to become a informant for the CIA. But in the world of intelligence, it is precisely such a person, who has no obvious sympathy for you, who can be turned and who provides the required information. It seems that the doctor even fooled his own family by pretending to go elsewhere (link to article):

The BBC’s Dale Gavlak, in Zarqa, Jordan, spoke to a family member who refused to be identified after being told to remain anonymous by the Jordanian authorities. He said Balawi had fooled them all about his intentions and his beliefs, telling his family he was travelling to Turkey to join his Turkish wife and children and continue his medical studies.
Balawi was reportedly recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials when he attempted to enter Gaza as part of a medical team last year. According to US media reports, he was a CIA double agent whose specific mission was tracking down al-Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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