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Al-Qaeda’s Counterintelligence: Kill People & Blow Stuff Up

A picture is emerging of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian double agent who murdered seven CIA agents and Blackwater contractors in Khost Province last week after convincing U.S. and Jordanian intelligence that he was key to penetrating al-Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He’s an Internet enthusiast, apparently. But look at this New York Times observation:

Mr. Balawi proved to be one of the oddest double agents in the history of espionage, choosing to kill his American contacts at their first meeting, rather than establish regular communication to glean what the C.I.A. did — and did not — know about Al Qaeda and then report back to the network’s leaders.

An excellent point. I don’t think we have enough information to start speculating on that decision. But it raises the prospect that al-Qaeda might think it knows all it needs to know about U.S. intelligence operations in eastern Afghanistan. That would cut against the supposed freaked-out-ed-ness of al-Qaeda about the drone strikes in Pakistan. But like I said: not enough information to speculate.

Update: Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I see this AP story, which ought to be huge:

A former senior intelligence official says the double agent who killed seven CIA employees last week had provided information that led the CIA to kill a number of al-Qaida leaders.

The former official says Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi had provided high-quality intelligence that established his credibility with Jordanian and U.S. intelligence.

The former official says that information led to drone-launched missiles strikes. CBS News first reported al-Balawi’s connection to the missile strikes.

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