Danish former jihadist claims to have aided U.S. attack on al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki
His story is the stuff of spy fiction: an undercover agent who used guile and technology to help the CIA find a top al-Qaeda leader. But if true, newly published claims by a self-professed Danish double agent could complicate efforts by U.S. and European spy agencies to penetrate terrorist groups in the future, intelligence experts say.
Morten Storm, an admitted former jihadist, sparked a controversy in his native country this week with a newspaper interview claiming he helped the CIA target Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a drone strike last year. The 36-year-old Dane offered a detailed account of how he cultivated a years-long relationship with the U.S.-born propagandist in Yemen, and then helped the CIA plant the tracking device that led to Awlaki’s death.
Both the CIA and the Danish intelligence service declined to confirm or deny the account. But Storm has buttressed his version of events by supplying a Danish newspaper with copies of purported e-mail exchanges with Awlaki, as well as what he says is a secret audio recording of a meeting with a CIA officer last year in which the targeting of Awlaki was discussed.
Storm did not reply to e-mails and phone messages requesting comment. But several U.S. and European analysts — including former intelligence officers — have described his account as broadly plausible while acknowledging that it may be impossible to verify many of the specific claims. (continue reading...)