Al-Qaida Says CIA Killings Payback for Pakistan Drone Strikes

BY Larisa Epatko  January 7, 2010 at 3:47 PM EDT

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility on Thursday for last month’s attack on a base in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven CIA agents. According to Islamist Web sites, the attack was “revenge” for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.

Al-Qaida’s head in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, said the bomber — identified as a Jordanian doctor who had been recruited for counter-terrorism work — wrote in his will that the suicide attack was revenge for “our righteous martyrs” and named several top militants killed in drone attacks in August, reported the Agence France-Presse.

The military and CIA base in Khost, which is close to the Pakistan border, has been described as a key “anti-terror” facility that oversaw drone strikes targeting suspected al-Qaida and Taliban sites on the Pakistani border. Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 32, an [alleged double agent](http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/jan-june10/cia_01-05.html), detonated a vest of explosives at Forward Operating Base Chapman during a meeting with the CIA and his Jordanian handler. Family members of al-Balawi are speaking out about his role. Al-Balawi’s wife, Defne Bayrak, who lives in Istanbul, told Turkish media outlets that she doubted her husband worked for the CIA, despite reports that he was a double agent, but that she was proud of what he had done, according to [Reuters](http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6061JF20100107). His brother and father [told CNN](http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/01/06/afghanistan.jordanian.attack/) that his actions were “out of character” and he was “under pressure.” His father said he learned of his son’s death by an Afghan man, who called him saying al-Balawi was a hero. Families of some of the CIA victims have released information about their lives. Harold Brown Jr., 37, from Massachusetts, had a wife and three children; Jeremy Wise, 35, was a former Navy SEAL and worked as a security contractor; Scott Michael Roberson, 39, worked as a security officer and had a wife who was eight months pregnant; and Dane Clak Paresi, 46, was a contractor and retired soldier. An eighth victim, identified as a Jordanian spy, was Capt. Sharif Ali bin Zeid, a member of the royal family. On Thursday, another suicide bomber struck a [marketplace in Gardez](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8446094.stm), the capital of Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least nine people. And a [bomb planted outside the window](http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/world/asia/08afghan.html) of the offices of Gov. Tahir Khan Sabari in Khost Province showered him with glass but didn’t kill him, though it wounded six other Afghan officials.