Intelligence: Playing The Games

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November 6, 2012: A Danish man, Morten Storm, has gone public with details of his career as a CIA and PET (the Danish intelligence agency) spy within the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda. Storm was a Danish biker when, in the late 1990s, he converted to Islam. In 2006, he and two other Danish converts went to Yemen. There Anwar al Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric who was raised in the United States and joined al Qaeda after September 11, 2001, met Storm (who spoke English) and the two became friends. They were so close that in 2006, Awlaki asked Storm to find him a European woman, who had converted to Islam, to be his wife. Storm did this but by this time the Danish man had become disenchanted with Islamic terrorism and had begun working for PET and the CIA. Storm participated in three different attempts to kill Awlaki. Storm carried out his assignments all three times, but none of those efforts resulted in getting Awlaki killed. Storm made a lot of money from the intel agencies in the process, although he refused a $260,000 payment from PET in return for keeping quiet about his spying activities. Awlaki was eventually killed in September 2011, via the efforts of another CIA spy within the Yemeni al Qaeda.

Strom went public with all this because of dissatisfaction about how he was being treated by PET which, he felt, had failed to keep promises made to him. PET wanted to keep all this quiet, if only to protect its methods and sources. Intelligence professionals know the risks of dealing with unstable individuals like Morten Storm. Many of the people recruited to be operatives are unreliable and temperamental. What this particular incident shows is that the Western converts to Islam and al Qaeda tend to be unstable and difficult to handle. There have been others like Storm who went to Somalia, Pakistan, or Afghanistan and were simply killed (often as suicide bombers) or chased away when they became troublesome or unreliable. Storm was more clever and resourceful than most and got out alive. He’s also doing a good job playing the Western intelligence agencies. But as a secret agent he was only intermittently useful.

 

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