CIA Bomber Apparently Was A Double Agent
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
I'm Steve Inskeep.
Here's a detail that helps explain how a suicide bomber made it into a U.S. base in Afghanistan. The bomber was apparently a double agent.
BRAND: He was recruited by the intelligence service of Jordan. The Jordanians wanted him to infiltrate al-Qaida, and he was expected to provide information when he stepped on to a U.S. base last week.
INSKEEP: Instead he set off a bomb that killed seven officers and contractors of the CIA. The reporters covering the story include Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal. She's on the line. Welcome to the program.
Ms. SIOBHAN GORMAN (Intelligence Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal): Great to be with you.
INSKEEP: How long that this may have been working with the U.S. and Jordan - or at least pretending to work with the U.S. and Jordan?
Ms. GORMAN: We don't know exactly how long, but it does seem that he had built up a track record of providing valuable intelligence, which is - what it appears to be - the reason why he seemed to have a trusted relationship with the Jordanians and the U.S. officials.
INSKEEP: You have given a little bit of his chronology here. A year ago he was in Jordan. He had been detained by the Jordanians and then he ended up in Afghanistan. So there was, at least, perhaps that year of providing of information to the U.S. and Jordan.
Ms. GORMAN: Perhaps, it seems like it might have been a shorter period of time than that, but it certainly wasn't a relationship that appeared to go back for years.
INSKEEP: Nevertheless, it does raise the question. Is this why he was not searched very thoroughly, apparently, on his way on to this U.S. base.
Ms. GORMAN: It does seem to help explain that, because what we have known now for a few days, in terms of following this story, is that he was able to make it on to this base without being searched thoroughly. And there have been some conflicting reports - it's not sure whether he was on track to be searched a little bit more thoroughly or not, but it does seem that he was, at least, able to make it someway on to the base without being searched thoroughly because they didn't find the bomb there.
INSKEEP: You also write and I suppose it is not surprising. It would not be surprising to U.S. officials since they were trying to get him to pose as a member of al-Qaida. He was actually an al-Qaida recruiter.
Ms. GORMAN: Indeed, we were doing some archival research and found that he had done some postings on a password protected al-Qaida Web site back in May of 2007 where he was talking about the need to, for I think, it was African-Americans as well as native Americans and people of Vietnamese background to join the al-Qaida fight against the U.S. quote, unquote �oppressor.�
INSKEEP: Is it fair to say that, in this case, at least, al-Qaida or someone seems to have outsmarted the United States?
Ms. GORMAN: Well, the intelligence officials I spoke with yesterday were indeed quite surprised that apparently al-Qaida was able to run a double agent. We may learn more later to sort of fill out some of those details but it did seem quite surprising. I was told that prior to 9/11 there had been some attempts for them to penetrate CIA operations, but there hadn't been anything like that that we had seen since 9/11.
INSKEEP: Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal, we mentioned that this man started with the relationship with the Jordanian intelligence agency. How closely does the United States work with Jordan?
Ms. GORMAN: The U.S. works incredibly closely with Jordan, and that's a relationship that preexisted prior to 9/11, but it certainly has been strengthened quite a bit since then. The Jordanians were very helpful during the war in Iraq and they have also been very helpful on the intelligence front. They have interrogated on behalf of the CIA and other things that obviously help provide intelligence to the CIA.
INSKEEP: Is this the kind of thing, very briefly, that reverberates through an intelligence agency or may be two intelligence agencies, the U.S. and Jordan. The Americans have to ask can we trust the Jordanians who sent this man to us, for example.
Ms. GORMAN: Yes, I mean I think there is going to be a lot of review and searching for the reasons why this was allowed to transpire. And I think that this will probably reverberate through both agencies for a while.
INSKEEP: Siobhan, thanks very much.
Ms. GORMAN: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Siobhan Gorman is an intelligence correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, telling us, this morning, about news that the man who infiltrated the U.S. base in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber, was apparently a double agent.
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