During my twenty year law enforcement career, which I assure you was not anything like James Bond’s movies, I learned that in gathering either intelligence or evidentiary information from a snitch, a mole, a rat, or whatever term you prefer, there sometimes comes a point in the work where the snitch is no longer reliable or of benefit to his handlers because he has been “burned”. That is to say there is a juncture at which the targeted criminal enterprise or enemy realizes it has an “informant” problem, and must either go out of business or change tactics to neutralize the snitch.
We may now have reached a point where the entire Jordanian intelligence service has been “burned”. The Jordanians hand-picked a known al-Qaida agent and physician, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, arrested him, interrogated and supposedly “flipped” him to our side of the War, then gave him to our C.I.A. to use as a mole in locating the al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri.
Al-Balawi gave the Jordanians and our C.I.A. just enough reliable information to establish some credibility as a snitch, then promised some really big stuff. The forthcoming hot tip resulted in arrangements for a meeting that included some high-ranking operatives of our intelligence service. Al-Balawi walked into the meeting and blew them up with a suicide bomb. The Jordanians are understandably embarrassed. News reports tell us that the Jordanian intelligence network gave our armed forces their fatal shot at Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Ergo, in the aftermath of the Afghanistan C.I.A. base bombing some serious re-consideration of how much longer we can continue to use Jordanian informants, or even Jordanian intelligence information, is in order. Surely al-Qaida agents figured out from whence came the intel info that resulted in al-Zarqawi’s demise. While al-Qaida claims the bombing was in retaliation for recent drone strikes in Afghanistan, the C.I.A. base bombing was much, more than that. It was a brilliantly conceived move that may very well neutralize Jordan’s intelligence network as a source of further reliable U.S. intelligence information, and as a recruiting ground for double agents.
A report comes from the Times of London UK:
“A staunch Western ally in the Middle East, Jordan has long had one of the most effective intelligence operations in the Arab world. But the suicide bombing by a Jordanian doctor working for al-Qaeda that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan has severely embarrassed Amman.
A senior Jordanian official said, defensively, that there was no proof that Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi had been the suicide bomber, adding that he had given Jordanian intelligence valuable information… Like al-Zarqawi, al-Balawi came from Zarqa, the impoverished city on the outskirts of Amman, which has become a hotbed of militancy. He was arrested and interrogated by Jordanian intelligence about a year ago, but was released as the questioning revealed nothing…Jordan recruited him as a double agent to penetrate al-Qaeda – although it now appears that he was a triple agent, all along, still loyal to the terrorists…” (Emphasis in bold print is mine).
AP, via FoxNews online adds more information:
“ZARQA, Jordan — The suspected Jordanian double agent who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan was thrown into jail by Jordanian intelligence to coerce him to track down Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Mideast counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.
The 32-year-old doctor’s allegiance was to Al Qaeda from the start, however, and not to his Jordanian recruiters or their CIA friends — and it never wavered, a Middle East counterterrorism official told The Associated Press…
…Jordanian intelligence believed the devout young Muslim had been persuaded to support U.S. efforts against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and wanted al-Balawi to help capture or kill Ayman al-Zawahri, a fellow doctor from Egypt who is Usama bin Laden’s right-hand man, according to another counterterrorism official based in the Middle East.
All four spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on matters involving the CIA and Jordan’s national security… “If the love of jihad entered a man’s heart, it will not abandon him, even if he wanted so,” al-Balawi said in an interview published by the Ana Al-Muslim, or “I, the Muslim,” Web site.
Jordanian intelligence was aware of these provocative statements when they arrested al-Balawi last March…Al-Balawi was jailed for three days and shortly after that, he secretly left his native Jordan for Afghanistan, they said, suggesting he had agreed to take on the mission against Al Qaeda.
Once in Afghanistan, al-Balawi provided valuable intelligence information that helped foil Al Qaeda terror plots on Jordan, the officials said. His Jordanian recruiters then offered al-Balawi to their CIA allies as someone who would help them capture or kill al-Zawahri.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official said al-Balawi had provided high-quality intelligence that established his credibility with Jordanian and U.S. intelligence…The former official was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity…
…The bombing of the CIA base was an embarrassment for Jordan.”
Yes, I’m sure it was. After all they spent three entire days making sure they had “flipped” this mole from the dark side. Now, despite public assurances from anonymous American intelligence officials that Jordan will continue to be a close ally and assist in providing intelligence information for the War effort, there must be some soul-searching re-evaluation to decide if the entire Jordanian intelligence network has been irreparably “burned” by this attack.