Taliban-Pakistan claims Khost suicide bomber as its own

A video clip released to al Jazeera Saturday, Jan. 10, shows double agent Hammam Khalil al Balawi, the suicide bomber who killed eight people at a base in Khost, Afghanistan on Dec. 30, saying before the attack: "We will never forget the blood of our Emir Baitullah Mehsud" (the Pakistan Taliban leader killed by a US drone in South Waziristan in August last year.)

He is also shown referring in the future tense to Ummar Farouk Abdulmutalleb, the Nigerian who tried to blow up a US airliner five days earlier on Dec. 25.

These references, debkafile's counter-terror sources note, clash with the accounts given by president Barack Obama and US intelligence chiefs, which linked both attacks and their perpetrators to al Qaeda.

Balawi, a Jordanian medical doctor of Palestinian descent, was identified by US spokesmen as a double agent employed by the CIA and Jordanian intelligence to use his al Qaeda past for penetrating its top ranks and meet its No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri, whereas on the new clip, Balawi says:
"This is a message to the enemies of the Umma, Jordanian intelligence and the CIA. To retaliate for the death of Baitullah Mehsud will remain an obligation on all emigrants he harbored."

Mehsud's brother and successor, Hakimullah, Mehsud is shown sitting beside the Jordanian suicide killer in the video.
<bBalawi goes on to hope that "Pakistan's Taliban Hakimullah will go on the same methodology and the same path until we achieve victory or meet the same fate as Hamza Abdul Mutalleb."b>

He then shoots a gun to show how he will target the seven American CIA officers and a Jordanian intelligence captain, Sharif Ali bin Zeid, all of whom he took with him when he killed himself at the Khost base.
Our counter-terror sources take Balawi's pre-mortem message as a Taliban threat to press forward with more suicide operations both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and inside the United States.
This threat, first heard from the late Baitullah Mehsud before he was killed, must now be taken very seriously. For more than a year, the Khost killer managed to hoodwink US and Jordanian intelligence in two ways: he persuaded them he was a mine of information on al Qaeda and al-Zawahri as a former loyalist of the organization, while he was in fact on a mission for Taliban-Pakistan.
Balawi's success places a question mark over the Obama administration's entire Afghanistan surge policy, whose declared objective is to weaken the local Taliban and contain its strongholds sufficiently to prevent al Qaeda from reestablishing itself in Afghanistan.
It is obvious that he was not the Taliban's only covert collaborator at the top-secret CIA base. There is no other explanation for the publication of a photo of the dead Balawi among the bodies of dead American agents which was released on Saturday to al Jazeera.

The Taliban demonstrated by its disastrous operation at this secret base and the perilously near-destruction of a US-bound airliner that their threat to the US goes beyond local interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It must be treated as a serious menace to the US national homeland security as well.




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