Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another 'double agent'

An article published by the BBC Thursday states, “UK intelligence services were warned of the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the mid-90s but did not act quickly enough, says a spy who infiltrated the network.”

“Known by the pseudonym of Omar Nasiri,” the spy “worked for intelligence in the UK and France, and trained in Afghanistan,” where he met senior al-Qaeda figures, the BBC reported.

“The spy also said that to maintain his cover the French and UK services reluctantly gave him money to pass to al-Qaeda, and he did not know how the money was spent. When asked if he ever forgot he was a spy while in Afghanistan, ‘Omar’ replied: ‘Oh yeah, all the time.’”

As The New York Times, notes, the name Omar Nasiri is actually a “pseudonym for someone who lives in hiding at an undisclosed location abroad”. This one-time intelligence asset has written a book entitled, “Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda, A Spy’s Story”.

This book will undoubtedly omit relevant information and mislead the reader on certain points, but it is still worth checking out.

“Nasiri's original motive for writing a book, he said, was revenge,” the Times reported.

“After seven years of dangerous work - principally for the Directorate-General of External Security in France - he said he felt hung out to dry by the Western agencies. The bombings of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998 left Nasiri appalled by the violence of Islamic terrorism but also uncomfortable at the role of the West.”

The book, according to the Times, “is replete with tales of phony passports, envelops stuffed with cash, and cloak-and-dagger meetings between Nasiri and his "handlers" in various European capitals.”

Along his travels, as the Times interestingly notes, Nasiri said “he encountered Abu Zubayda, a Palestinian who acted as a gatekeeper to some of the camps.”

Abu Zubayda, who was recently named as a “key informant” in the Jose Padilla trial, was, at the time of his encounters with Nasiri, also serving the interests of Western intelligence, arranging for fighters to travel from Afghanistan to Chechnya and Bosnia.

Furthermore, according to the BBC, Nasiri came into contact with Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who Nasiri asserts, “was given terror training in London.”

The article offers no explanation for why British authorities were permitting such activities to take place after they had supposedly ‘infiltrated’ the group.

It would appear Abu Hamza was also an asset of Western intelligence, originally fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets, then against the Serbs in Bosnia, and later assisting with the recruitment and training of Islamic militants for operations in various other regions.

“Evidence collected by the American agencies shows that, as early as 1997, Hamza was organising terror camps in the Brecon Beacons, at an old monastery in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and in Scotland, suggesting that he ran a far more extensive training network than has been officially acknowledged until now,” The Observer reported in February of this year.

Some of these camps were reportedly run with the direct assistance of ex-British soldiers.

According to The Observer, “Transcripts of interviews conducted with suspected al-Qaeda terrorists held by America in Guantánamo Bay reveal that the British ex-soldiers, some of whom fought in Bosnia, were recruited to train about 10 of Hamza's followers at the Brecon Beacons camp for three weeks in 1998.”

Even The Observer seemed to have trouble explaining all this. The paper could only make a guess: “the British security services were either unconcerned or ignorant about Hamza's activities, despite warnings that he was considered a risk from foreign governments and intelligence agencies as early as 1995.”

As usual, the most reasonable explanation—that British intelligence was complicit in such activities—was ignored completely.

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