CIA bomber studied in Turkey, married Turk
Mohammed Yousef, a high-school classmate of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, told The Associated Press that the doctor had deceived family and friends before leaving for his suicide mission in Afghanistan, telling them in March that he was going to Turkey to continue his medical studies and be with his wife, a Turkish journalist. There was no information on the school he went to or his wife.
“He fooled us, saying he was going to continue his medical studies, but he embarked on a suicide mission,” said a close relative, who requested anonymity, citing instructions from Jordanian authorities to the family not to talk to the media. He said the family found out about al-Balawi’s death in a telephone call last Thursday from a man who claimed to be from the Taliban.
Al-Balawi was thrown into jail by Jordanian intelligence in March to force him to track down Ayman al-Zawahri, a fellow doctor from Egypt who is Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man. But his allegiance was to al-Qaeda from the start and not to his Jordanian recruiters or their CIA friends, and it never wavered
Jordanian intelligence arrested al-Balawi, the father of two girls, after he signed up for a humanitarian mission in the Gaza Strip with a Jordanian field hospital in the wake of Israel’s offensive there, the counterterrorism officials said. Al-Balawi was jailed for three days and shortly after that he secretly left his native Jordan for Afghanistan, they said, suggesting he had agreed to take on the mission against al-Qaeda.
Once in Afghanistan, al-Balawi provided valuable intelligence that helped foil al-Qaeda terror plots in Jordan, officials said. His Jordanian recruiters then offered al-Balawi to their CIA allies as someone who would help them capture or kill al-Zawahri. A former senior US intelligence official said al-Balawi had provided high-quality intelligence that established his credibility with Jordanian and US intelligence.
Al-Balawi came from a nomadic Bedouin clan from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, which has branches in Jordan and the West Bank. He was born in Kuwait in 1977 to a middle-class family of nine other children, including an identical twin brother. He lived there until Iraq’s 1990 invasion of the rich Gulf nation when the family moved to Jordan.