Jordanian blogger Naseem Tarawnah writes about the Jordanian double agent who killed seven C.I.A. members in Afghanistan this week — and the event’s impact on Jordanians.
It took less than 48 hours later for more information to emerge that the suicide bomber was Jordanian. In Amman, everyone seemed to have seen this piece of information scrawl across the screen of an Al Jazeera news ticker. Al Jazeera’s information was coming from a Taliban spokesperson, and this news was, naturally, quickly denied by the Jordanian government, which, naturally, spoke too soon…
Apparently, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was a 36-year old doctor from Zarqa…
Interestingly enough, Balawi was “turned” after being arrested in 2007 for his activities on an extremist website that was being monitored by authorities. Balawi became an administrator of the site where he operated under the screen name of Abu Dujana al-Khorasani. Moreover, he was also a Jordanian blogger who according to sources, had a Maktoob-hosted blog that seems to still be accessible but seems to have had its archives flushed.
According to sources, Balawi was a trusted informant despite his extremist tendencies, which were probably the same tendencies the CIA and Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) were using to their advantage when they used him as an informant with Al Qaeda’s circles. It is however astonishing that both the CIA and GID, despite the notoriety of both intelligence entities in their field, were duped by this one man they had working for them, who turns out was a triple agent.
It is very likely that Jordan will be given its share of the blame for its responsibility in arresting, turning and bringing Balawi to the attention of the CIA in the first place. But, even more embarrassing for Jordan is its CIA connection, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see – especially the Arab street.
The Jordanian government will likely go on as if nothing ever happened, believing that Jordanians have no access to information, but being that we live in the information age where practically every Jordanian household has Al Jazeera and a million other channels, this is one piece of information that isn’t going to be kept quiet.
This is, of course, a subject that the state considers to be the very definition of a “red line.” I assume most journalists will be avoiding the issue like the plague, lest they be charged with the notoriously overused “attempting to harm the state’s relations” charge. However, the problem with such a charge, at least this time around, is that it seems the GID has done a pretty good job of doing the “harming” all by itself. It is the very definition of shooting oneself in the foot.
The repercussions are akin to opening Pandora’s Box. Jordan has lost tremendous face and what little political capital it had in a region where pretty much every country has a CIA connection they keep quiet. Moreover, they have given both Al Qaeda as well as Jordanians with extremist tendencies, a hero – a martyr to admire.
– Naseem Tarawnah