Jan. 8, 2010 -- In an interview with Turkish television, the widow of Humam al-Balawi, who killed seven CIA operatives in a Dec. 30 suicide bombing in Afghanistan, said she was "proud of her husband."
Balawi's widow Defne Bayrak told Turkey's Kanal 6 that she hoped that God would accept her husband as a martyr, and that "he conducted a very big operation in a kind of war." She said that she learned of her husband's death when a man called her from Pakistan at 7 a.m. the morning after the attack on her husband's cell phone. She also discussed rumors that her husband's parents had been told 10 days in advance what Balawi would do.
A portion of the interview can be viewed in the video to the left. The clip is in Turkish and does not include English subtitles. A transcript is below, with translation provided by Kanal 6.
Did you expect that your husband would conduct a kind of attack?
I am a person who knows her husband's point of view. But honestly, I didn't know that he would conduct an attack. When I learned the news, I was really surprised. Because he was always saying that he would come back. But he did this because he was a person who believed this. I don't know how he decided this.
As far as I know you have two children, right? And how old are they?
They are 5 and 7 years old.
They don't know that he conducted an attack, right?
They don't know.
When are you planning to tell them?
Right now I am not planning to tell them. I will wait for them to grow up. If they don't learn this from anywhere, like the media, I would like to wait for them to grow up a bit.
Don't they feel that their father is absent? Did they already see him rarely?
No, my husband left in March. Before that, we were living together. We were staying in the same house. He was not always leaving us here. They definitely feel his absence.
Are they asking you where their father is?
Sure, they are asking.
Did you face any kind of pressure on yourself?
No, I didn't.
It is said that CIA agents are here in Istanbul.
Yes, I have heard that, but they haven't reached me in anyway.
Have they come to your home?
Did Her In-Laws Have Prior Knowledge of Attack?
It is claimed that your mother-in-law said she [and your father-in-law] were told about the [suicide bombing] 10 days before their son was killed.
I don't know how they were told. They may have been informed that the attack would be conducted.
That kind of story is in the foreign media.
But I didn't receive this kind of information.
Have you met with your husband's family? How is their situation?
I haven't had a chance to meet with them. They are always followed by intelligence agencies tightly. I only could have met with my father-in-law. I learned that he was being questioned and the brother of my husband was arrested.
And then I have decided not to call them for now. Yesterday I learned that the vicinity of our house and a mosque, which is close to our house, is under tight inspection by intelligence agents and they are not allowed to talk with anyone, according to Al-Jazeera. Because of this reason and not to cause any problems, I prefer not to call them.
Do you have any worries right now?
I don't have any worries about the security of my life right now. My husband did something. I am not ashamed of it. Because my husband probably did this against the U.S. invasion. What kind of harm could I face?
I am talking about that. You know CIA agents have come.
Okay. They would probably ask me what you are asking me right now. I don't think they would ask me different questions.
I have already announced in the media whatever I know about it.
Did anyone from the government or somewhere else call you?
No, no one called me. If they did call me, I don't know. For example yesterday, many people called me from the press, but I couldn't answer some of them. They may be among them, those I couldn't speak with. I don't know exactly.
What was your first reaction when you heard that your husband was involved in this kind of attack?
It was around 7 o'clock. The morning after the event, I received a phone call from Pakistan, from his friend. Frankly, I couldn't feel feelings like panic, because my daughter also woke up. It was a phone number from which my husband always was calling. When I heard another voice instead of his, I was surprised when I figured out that it was not my husband. And after that I tried not to show this to my daughter. I was shocked, along with the pressure to keep this from my daughter.
What did he tell you?
He told me that my husband conducted an attack in Afghanistan and he killed 8 CIA agents including a Jordan intelligence worker. He advised me to be patient.
He told me that he would send me [my husband's] letter and his last will.
A Phone Call From Pakistan
Do you know what his last will entails?
I couldn't ask, because I was in a panic.
When did you speak with your husband for the last time?
I spoke with my husband for the last time one or one-and-a-half months ago by phone. On the internet, we spoke with him about 10 days ago.
Did he say anything about it?
No, to the contrary, he was always saying that he would come to Turkey. We were thinking that he would study here. Thinking of this idea, we came here and settled. He didn't tell me anything. He was always saying that he will come to Turkey, study and would like to have Turkish citizenship. I mean he was saying those kinds of things.
What are you going to do now?
We are going to continue our life. There is nothing to do.
Are you going to go to Jordan or planning to live here from now on?
I don't think I could go to Jordan.
How did you learn about the [suicide bombing]?
I learned about the event from a phone call coming from Pakistan. A friend of his called me and informed me.
Did you live in Jordan before?
I was already living in Jordan. We just came from Jordan. We were living in Jordan for 8 years. We came here 2 months ago.
'I Am Proud of My Husband'
Have you ever thought that he might be a CIA agent?
I surely don't think so because my husband was an anti-U.S. person, who cannot be an agent. I can't even think of that kind of thing. My husband probably used the U.S. and Jordan...
Will you miss your husband?
Who wouldn't? Surely.
You are probably sad about losing your husband? But he conducted an attack …
Frankly, I am proud of my husband. I think my husband conducted a very big operation in a kind of war. Hopefully, if he is a martyr, may God accept his being a martyr. I think there is not much to say about the subject.
I didn't expect this kind of thing, because my husband went there to study. After that he started working there. This is the point.
What was he thinking?
My husband was writing on jihad forums. And it also appeared in the media. It is not weird that he conducted a kind of attack. The thing that could be strange is that the event is connected with CIA and Jordan intelligence. I guess he used them. I don't have any other guesses.
I don't believe he was an agent. He didn't have a point of view that he could be an agent.
God bless my husband. I love him so much. That's it. I hope he has been martyred. I cannot say if he is a martyr or not. God knows that.