Did the CIA Have a Double Agent Inside al Qaeda?

Morten Storm told Danish newspaper he helped CIA find Anwar al-Awlaki.

ByABC News
October 9, 2012, 12:11 PM

Oct. 9, 2012 — -- A Danish man claims he worked with the CIA to infiltrate al Qaeda as a double agent for years and helped track radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki until the prominent al Qaeda figure was killed in an American drone strike, according to a Danish news report.

The man, who calls himself Morten Storm, provided evidence to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that he was a former radical who had been turned by the Danish intelligence service (PET) and later worked with the CIA so closely that he says President Obama knew his name. Storm said he was the one who sent Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda preacher linked to several American terror plots, a USB stick that contained a tracking device that eventually allowed an American drone to take him out in September 2011.

READ: Al Qaeda's Anwar al-Awlaki Killed in CIA Drone Strike

Among the evidence Storm gave Jyllands-Posten are alleged letters between Storm and Awlaki and what appears to be a secret recording of a conversation between Storm and people he calls PET agents and an officer from the CIA in a swanky Denmark hotel in October 2011. During a private conversation, the alleged CIA officer, identified only as Michael, confirms Storm's work for the PET and CIA and makes the claim that the President is aware of the operation.

However, the purported CIA man maintains that Awlaki was killed thanks to a parallel mission and not because of Storm's work.

Storm said he was a radical, militant Islamist in the United Kingdom in the mid-2000s who appeared at at least one anti-American rally, but was turned by PET in 2006.

He said he traveled to Yemen several times and eventually earned Awlaki's trust, so much so that the cleric would ask Storm to purchase everyday goods for his wife, including simple European clothes (not orange or pink, please), mosquito bite lotion, a variety of western hair conditioners, deodorant, candy and Dolce and Gabbana perfume.

Even when just talking about household product runs, communication between Awlaki and Storm, Storm said, was undertaken by encrypting messages, storing them on thumb drives and having a messenger physically take them back and forth.

He claims it was with help from a rigged thumb drive and Awlaki's wife's penchant for fancy perfume that counter-terrorist agents were finally able to take their shot.

In a statement from PET's chief, the Danish spy organization said that as a matter of policy it does not publicly confirm sensitive information about its operations, nor does it deny incorrect information.

"It should be noted, however, that in no way does PET engage in or support operations aimed at taking civilian lives. Consequently, PET has not contributed in connection to the military operation that led to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen," the statement said.

The CIA declined to comment and a White House official did not immediately return requests for comment on this report.

Storm told the newspaper he wanted to come forward now because he was proud of the work he had done and wanted some recognition. He reportedly also wanted his family to know he had been fighting terrorism for years.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and contributor to The Daily Beast, said that for the most part, Storm's account seems plausible.

"This story is consistent with how you would infiltrate a terrorist group like al Qaeda," Riedel told ABC News. "You need someone who's a plausible recruit... He's the perfect kind of infiltrator, perfect kind of plant inside of al Qaeda."

Riedel said that as good as America's technological capabilities are in fighting terrorism, there's little substitute for having a man inside.

"The drones themselves are amazing technical phenomena, but the information that leads the drones to the target is what really matters," Riedel said. "In the end it's human beings and the little technical means they can put on somebody to track them down."

ABC News' Mark Schone, Randy Kreider and Rym Momtaz contributed to this report.

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