A newly-released martyrdom tape from the informant-turned-suicide bomber who killed five CIA officers and two CIA security contractors last month shows him sitting next to the leader of the Pakistani Taliban and describing the attack as a response to a past drone attack that killed a former Taliban leader.
"This [suicide] attack will be the first of the revenge operations against the Americans and their drone teams outside the Pakistani borders," the 32-year-old Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al-Balawi says in English in the video, taped before the Dec. 30 attack.
Al-Balawi said he turned down "millions of dollars" from American and Jordanian intelligence to work with them and spy on the "mujahedden" (an Arabic word for freedom fighters), instead going to the Taliban and telling them "everything."
"We arranged together this attack to let the Americans understand that the belief of Allah… cannot be exchanged for all of the wealth in the world," al-Balawi said. He also referenced two female Muslim prisoners: Aafia Siddiquii, an American born Pakistani accused of trying to murder Americans in Afghanistan; and Sajida Rishawi, an Iraqi woman accused by Jordan of trying to blow herself in a hotel in Amman in 2005.
In the video al-Balawi speaks in both English and Arabic as he sits crossed-legged on the floor next to a new chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, who is not believed to speak either language.
The video appears to link the attack, the deadliest against the CIA in 26 years, to the Pakistan Taliban, even though al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban had already claimed credit for the bombing. The text on the screen is written in Urdu, not Arabic, suggesting those in charge of editing the video were Pakistani and not associated with al Qaeda, whose videos display Arabic writing.
The Jordanian doctor lured the agents to a meeting on the CIA base in Khost province, near the Afghan-Pakistan border, by claiming he had just met with Ayman al-Zawahiri, this country's most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, according to people who work at the base. He had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence to get information on Zawahiri.
Because of his perceived importance, al-Balawi was driven past three security gates without being checked, according to people at the base as well as current and former intelligence officials. When he got out of the car, at least two of the thirteen CIA employees gathered to meet him noticed something suspicious: he was keeping one of his hands in his pocket, according to a U.S. official. Right before they searched him, he exploded the vest bomb, which was large enough to kill people who had waited for him 50 feet away, according to the U.S. official.
The details of the search were first reported by the Washington Post.
Among the eleven people killed were seven CIA operatives, the informant, and a Jordanian intelligence officer, a cousin of Jordan's King Abdullah, who had been the liaison between the informant and the CIA.
Today CIA Director Leon Panetta defended the officers who died in an editorial posted to the Washington Post web site, saying that in the past year the CIA has done "exceptionally heavy damage to al Qaeda and its associates. That's why the extremists hit back."
That damage had come largely thanks to a barrage of missile strikes by unmanned aerial drones. In the days since the base attack, the CIA has launched seven strikes just across the border in North Waziristan, including one today. Since the Pakistani military sent 30,000 troops into North Waziristan last fall, most of the Pakistani Taliban leadership have moved into North Waziristan, which is just over the border from Khost.