Officials are now confirming claims made yesterday in a statement by Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud, that the perpetrator of Wednesday’s bombing at Forward Operating Base Chapman was a Jordanian agent.
They identified the bomber as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor who was arrested last year as an “al-Qaeda sympathizer.” Since then Jordanian officials believed they had reformed him, and had set him up as an agent of their intelligence agency.
Balawi was sent off to the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan to infiltrate al-Qaeda in an attempt by Jordanian and US officials to find out the location of al-Qaeda number two man Ayman al-Zawahri.
But Taliban spokesmen now say that Balawi never actually “reformed” and that he had been operating as a double agent for them for a year, building up trust before hitting one of the CIA’s most important installations in Afghanistan.
Balawi reportedly set up the meeting, calling his Jordanian handler to claim he had “urgent” information for the CIA about Zawahri. He arrived with a suicide vest on, killing eight people, including his handler and seven CIA agents.
The handler in question turns out to be Jordanian Army Captain Ali bin Zeid, who ostenisbly died on Wednesday on a “humanitarian mission” but was actually a highly placed intelligence operative working with Jordan’s tiny Afghan War contingent. Capt. Zeid is also a first cousin of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
The Jordanian government formally denied any link to the bombing yesterday, and at the moment it appears that they were duped by a key asset who turned out to be a double agent. It is unclear what effect the revelation will have on Jordan’s growing role as a CIA counterterrorism ally.