A former CIA official says he believes the agency is doing a “lot of soul searching” after the revelation that Wednesday’s Khost bombing, the deadliest strike on a CIA target in over a quarter century, was carried out by a “trusted” Jordanian agent.
The bomber, identified as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was arrested by Jordan over a year ago as an “al-Qaeda sympathizer” and was recruited by the Jordanian spy agency to infiltrate militant groups along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
His Jordanian handler, Captain Ali bin Zeid, brought Balawi to the base on Wednesday after Balawi claimed to have vital information for the CIA about al-Qaeda second in command Ayman al-Zawahri. He was reportedly not subject to search at NATO’s Forward Operating Base Chapman because Captain Zeid told them he was trustworthy, and managed to smuggle a suicide vest into the key CIA compound.
Analysts warn that the attack could imperil ties between Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and the CIA, and put serious doubts in the historic view that the GID had unique insight into the terrorist mindset and a better track record at “turning” former militants.
The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims that they are the ones who recruited Balawi away from the Jordanians. The Jordan government had previously denied having any links to the bombing.