The suicide bombing at CIA camp in Afghanistan on 31 December killed seven of our intelligence operatives, a Jordian intelligence official who was also a member of the royal family, and injured several others. The CIA officers killed were very experienced officers whose loss, tragic in human terms, is also a severe blow to our intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
We now know that the suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Mohammed, aka Abu Dujanah al-Khorasani, was a physician, a prolific and vitriolic jihadi cyber activist, and a double agent, apparently for the Taliban. He made a "martyrdom video" in the month prior to his death:
There is also a disturbing report suggesting that elements of Pakistan's Intelligence Service, ISI, may have had a hand in this mass murder:
Early evidence in the December 30 bombing that killed seven CIA agents suggests a link to Pakistan, two senior Afghan sources, including an official at their spy agency, told The Daily Beast. The pair said that U.S. has already taken a chemical fingerprint of the bomb used by a Jordanian double agent in the attack, and that it matches an explosive type used by their Pakistan equivalents, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.
If there is ISI involvement, then it compounds the issues raised by this bombing significantly.
Nibras Kazimi at Talisman Gate explains how this will reverberate through the jihadi community:
[Khorasani] is someone that many jihad-watchers have followed over the years . . .
If all the facts here are true, then this is huge. Huge. This story's immediate effect is to give the jihadists a massive morale boost. They will mythologize this story into a recruiting tool that encourages more and more young men who sympathize with the jihadists to surmount their instinctual fear of the nebulous intelligence services of the Middle East, and to challenge the autocracies that supposedly keep a lid on jihadism. Khorasani has left a lot of hero-worship material, much of it very smart at manipulating emotions. Now, he himself is the hero in the eyes of jihadist wanna-bes. Many will seek to emulate him, or even outdo him. . . .
This also raises a host of issues regarding security, field craft, and counterintelligence. Anyone can be fooled, but for six senior agents all to be milling about within the kill radius of a suicide bomb before Khorasani was searched is simply inexplicable. Leon Panetta claims that Khorsani was about to be searched when the bomb was set off, as if that somehow is an explanation for six deaths. It actually makes their failure to observe even basic common sense security procedures all that more blatant.
Dave In Boca discusses several of these issues in a very good post and I highly recommend you read it. He also adds this bon mot:
Robert Baer just came back from a visit to Kabul and environs and found that only two CIA officers spoke a local language, Dari, while NONE speaks or understands Pushtun, the language [that] most of the Al Qaeda Pathan in Afghanistan and their Taliban Punjabi brothers in Pakistan and Baluchi Taliban in Quetta converse in.
We are nine years into the war in Afghanistan. If this report is true, then there are more sucking chest wounds in our intelligence wing than merely security and counterintelligence. Indeed, I find this as breathtaking in its implications as is the fact that a suicide bomber was able to kill six senior CIA agents with a single suicide bomb. It means that nine years in, we essentially have an intelligence presence in Afghanistan - now America's main war effort - that is functionally deaf and illiterate. How the hell can the CIA expect to accomplish its intelligence mission without agents in country trained in the primary language spoken in Afghanistan. This isn't the stuff of 007 - its the stuff of a very bad Pink Panther movie. It is so 180 degrees off from what I would expect of a professional intelligence agency that I am near speachless. I am dead serious when I say that, between this failure of basic security procedures and the failure to have Pashtun speakers in a Pashtun speaking country when we are nine years into a war in said Pashtun speaking country, Sylvester Reyes and Leon Panetta should be emasculated and have their testicles hung at the Langley main entrance. This is utterly beyond belief.