The Case of Dr Al-Balawi 162

There is a very great deal that we can learn from the case of Dr Al-Balawi, the suicide bomber who took out seven CIA agents in Afghanistan.

The first relates to intelligence. Dr Al Balawi had become a trusted CIA informant, believed by the CIA to be helping them to target al-Qaida elements on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Except that we now know he was a dedicated al-Qaida all along.

Presumably much of the intelligence he had been providing was deliberately false and misleading. This yet again illustrates the point I have made repeatedly about the unreliability of “humint” – intelligence gained from informants.

As British Ambassador, I saw in Uzbekistan a continued stream of intelligence from the Uxbek torture chambers, accepted by the CIA and MI6 but which, in many cases, I knew to be false. The Uzbek government wished to retain Western support and subsidies by exaggerating their role in fighting al-Qaida; that was their purpose in providing the false intelligence. The Western security services and governments wished to exaggerate the threat of al-Qaida for domestic political purposes: that was their purpose in accepting it.

Torture is not the only source of unreliable “Humint”. Double agents like Dr Al-Balawi are another, A very high proportion of this intelligence is bought for cash, and that is the most unreliable of all. The dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD was full of tall stories for which you and I as taxpayers paid dodgy informants millions of dollars.

Yet we used unreliable humint as the basis for a war in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands. We use it to take out wedding parties with bomb attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We use it to keep people detained without charge for years in Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, in Belmarsh, and we use it to deliver people up to torturers around the World.

We should know by now that the intelligence services and politicians no longer care if the intelligence is true: they want intelligence that justifies the actions they want to take anyway, and that keep on stream the mega profits that their friends are making from the War on Terror.

So Dr Al Balawi’s case gives us an invaluable insight into the world of intelligence.

But it does more than that. Why would a medical doctor, a happily married professional man with two children, become a “terrorist”. The answer is crystal clear.

Al-Balawi “started to change,” says his wife, after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The failed underpants bomber was said by eye-witnesses to be shouting about Afghanistan: Dr Al-Balawi was motivated by our illegal invasion of Iraq. Violence begets violence – it is a truth as old as man.

Our unconscionable attacks on weaker nations, and our increasing complicity in the slow genocide of the Palestinians, are bound to provoke reaction, however weak that reaction may be compared to our own ability to kill en masse. The notion peddled by politicians and mainstream media, that we invade countries abroad to keep us safe at home, should be met with the derision it deserves.

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162 thoughts on “The Case of Dr Al-Balawi

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  • arsalan goldberg

    Whites count more than Blacks.

    That is what they really mean. What do they call Israel when they say Israelis are worth more than Arabs?

    They say it is a piece of Europe in the Middle East. In other words “Some white people surrounded by worthless Niggers”

  • Arsalan Goldberg


    I’ve met him too. He lives near me and is a parent governor the local school.

    And anyone drives past him they open their windows and shout, oy Bin Ladin!

  • Steve Radley

    I mean, you have to be seriously stupid and uneducated to believe that the Muslims did not do 7/7.

  • Steve Radley

    I mean, you have to be seriously stupid and uneducated to believe that the Muslims did not do 7/7.

  • Abe Rene

    Since their own CIA agents were killed, the Americans will be compelled to learn to look for signs that people might be coming under the influence of their enemies, and to examine the credibility of humint generally. This may have a knock-on influence on Britain’s intelligence services, in that obtaining accurate information may become again more important than telling people what they want to hear. So, in the long run, Britain’s secret services might benefit from this tragedy.

  • Strathturret

    On accurate reporting in the UK media I saw an interesting report in NY Times a month or so ago. The French Foreign Minister was asked about how effective NATO was in Afghanistan. He said something like, ‘Its not effective at all.’ Pretty damning but no mention in UK media.

  • Ruth


    I would think that there are different levels/departments in the service. Recruitment into the different divisions would depend on the morality of the agent. I imagine there are those that carry out normal intelligence activities, while there are others who are paid more to carry out a bit of torture etc. Another section would be involved in crime, setting up carousel and excise frauds, scams of all sorts. To complement this section there would be a group to cover up their colleagues illegal activities. Last but not least there is the hit squad for people who get in the way of government policy ie Dr Kelly.

  • Recursive

    Government agencies need to be accountable , but the Secret Services need to be, well, er, secret. Is this an unresolvable contradiction?

  • Craig

    It only works if you have a strong ethical code in society to which public servants subscribe. That is what New Labour, with its elevation of lying to a principle of government, has helped to undermine.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    @ Ruth – clever insight! But what would you do about villains like Dr. Evil?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Here this dood – I visit here for inspiration, knowledge, sometimes a good laugh or simply a chat.

    You neither inspire or say anything of any meaning or remotely funny or enjoyable.

    I suggest to stick with Facebook and FarmTown or FarmVille or CafeWorld or the new one CountryLife – much better ways of occupying your time.

  • Ruth

    I have no doubts that what Roderick Russell says is true. Mainly because I and my family have been intimidated by the secret services. When they thought I had a photograph of a senior agent involved in illegal activities on a vast scale they made an attempt by phone to contact my little son and soon after that someone set light to the house next door with a slow burnig device. Of course I can’t say for sure that it was an agent who started the fire but as I had been followed before and after the photo was going to be given to me it’s quite logical to think the worst. There were further attempts to incriminate my elder son. Another person who was set up by this agent was subjected to all kinds of intimidation. Intimidation isn’t just restricted to the intelligence services but also to judges particularly from the appeal court who bring in judgments to conceal state crime and will send a completely innocent appellant back to prison.

  • ishmael

    The Guv likely have a team of people working on lies all the time. The police are there to control us, not protect. Can’t have the public not doing as they are told now can we? Need to force them to. Very good article. One of the best.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Ruth, was that person with the slow-burning device wearing quasi-futuristic clothing?

  • Clark

    Mark Golding,

    what’s that about packet loss? Links to your site, and R Russell’s site are all working for me at present.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Thank-you – I wonder if the judge in the recent public order trial was intimidated or ‘advised’ – perhaps I should have given evidence of rape, murder, maiming, disfiguring, mental torture and orphaning of babies, toddlers, pre-school and teens in Iraq?

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “perhaps I should have given evidence of rape, murder, maiming, disfiguring, mental torture and orphaning of babies, toddlers, pre-school and teens in Iraq?”

    Thank you for pointing out the faults of Muslim extremists. Just imagine if they acquire a nuclear weapon.

  • Craig

    For what it is worth, my reading of Roderick’s story is that he has suffered persecution and intimidation from an ex-employer. This has been compounded by disinterest and inefficiency from the police and Home Office.

    I am not so far convinced that amounts to state collusion (other than by passivity) or security service involvement. The police are sadly nowadays focused on protecting the state, not protecting individuals from individual crimes. The police in the North West are also particularly prone to be locally corrupt. That may be playing a part.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    No – Thank-you – but – Bush to Blair he: “thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Jan 31st 2003 – Bad mistake Dood

    But of course. “God will be the ultimate judge of the Iraq war.” (PM Blair March 2006) or Allah (SWT)

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Bush said a number of stupid things, Mr. False Dichotomy.

    Now what do you think would have happened had Saddam Hussein expired? (which was a bit inevitable)

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    I least we both agree, Mr Bush was unable to determine right from wrong – as for Saddam – Hey that cruise missile was way off despite CIA illumination – but the war had started and Blackwater was only just recruiting. We witnessed the results of the ‘hit squads’ – a bad thing – the only good thing is we are now prepared (as witnessed in Iran) for false-flag internecine warfare – hence the victory.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Oh, no, Mark – whether Bush managed to say some stupid things has nothing to do with his ability to distinguish right from wrong.

    So is Obama now engaged in false-flag warfare in Iran?

  • dreoilin

    “Ruth, was that person with the slow-burning device wearing quasi-futuristic clothing?

    Posted by: Larry

    “Now what do you think would have happened had Saddam Hussein expired? (which was a bit inevitable)

    Posted by: Larry

    “So is Obama now engaged in false-flag warfare in Iran?

    Posted by: Larry

    So what exactly did you come here to learn, Larry? Do you take notes? What’s with the 101 questions? Hm?

    He thinks he can stir it up. And he does absolutely nothing only waste people’s time. Grrr … Trolls.

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