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A stunning narrative account of the mysterious Jordanian who penetrated both the inner circle of al-Qaeda and the highest reaches of the CIA, with a devastating impact on the war on terror.
In December 2009, a group of the CIA’s top terrorist hunters gathered at a secret base in Khost, Afghanistan, to greet a rising superspy: Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian double-agent who infiltrated the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he had sent shocking revelations from inside the terrorist network and now promised to help the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden’s top deputy. Instead, as he stepped from his car, he detonated a thirty-pound bomb strapped to his chest, instantly killing seven CIA operatives, the agency’s worst loss of life in decades.
In The Triple Agent, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Joby Warrick takes us deep inside the CIA’s secret war against al-Qaeda, a war that pits robotic planes and laser-guided missiles against a cunning enemy intent on unleashing carnage in American cities. Flitting precariously between the two sides was Balawi, a young man with extraordinary gifts who managed to win the confidence of hardened terrorists as well as veteran spymasters. With his breathtaking accounts from inside al-Qaeda’s lair, Balawi appeared poised to become America’s greatest double-agent in half a century—but he was not at all what he seemed. Combining the powerful momentum of Black Hawk Down with the institutional insight of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, Warrick takes the readers on a harrowing journey from the slums of Amman to the inner chambers of the White House in an untold true story of miscalculation, deception, and revenge.
Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Washington Post, untangles the knotty story of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, the Jordanian al-Qaeda double agent responsible for the 2009 suicide bombing of a facility in Khost, Afghanistan, in this accessible and fast-paced debut. A rising star in American espionage, al-Balawi had seemed to insinuate himself into the highest levels of al-Qaeda with remarkable swiftness and ease and had committed to assassinating Osama Bin Laden's deputy. Instead, his real mission was accomplished when he detonated a bomb strapped to his chest, killing seven CIA operatives, the agency's greatest loss of life in decades. Warrick builds a case for the military and institutional miscommunications that failed to sniff out al-Balawi's deceptions with meticulous detail and the atmosphere of a political thriller. While he introduces a who's who of terrorist figures and organizations and ably conveys the high-pressure world of international espionage in the bureaucracy of the CIA, he also gives the story a cinematic feel with suspenseful foreshadowing, rich character development especially of the murdered agents and their families and a remarkable amount of heart.