Western spies, intelligence agencies and Salafi-Wahhabis

As the takfiri group, the Islamic State (IS) continues to confound the West with its consolidation of a Salafist-inspired resurrection of a ‘caliphate’, the Danish mole responsible for leading the CIA to Anwar al- Awlaki has caused a scandal by publishing his memoirs of life “inside al Qaeda and the CIA”.
Crescent International, Saturday November 07, 2014,
Crescent International is a publication of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).
Review of Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.
ISBN 978-0-8021-2314-5

Recruiting Muslims has not been easy for western ‘intelligence’. The New York Police Department has tried for decades to recruit Muslim immigrants, and was finally embarrassed by a 2013 ACLU lawsuit to disband its most public recruiting unit, which essentially blackmailed anyone with a Muslim name arrested on any pretext, including parking tickets.
The most successful double agent prior to Morten Storm was Omar Nasiri (b. 1960s), the pseudonym of a Moroccan spy who infiltrated al-Qaeda, attended training camps in Afghanistan and passed information to the UK and French intelligence services. He revealed all in his fascinating memoirs Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda, A Spy’s Story in 2006.
Nasiri offered his services not so much for money (at least, so he claims) but to counter the descent into violence among Islamic groups following the military coup against the elected Islamic government in Algeria in 1992. “The GIA [the Algerian Armed Islamic Group] was riddled from the start with spies from the Algerian secret service”and “agent provocateurs who by 1995 were deliberately shifting the campaign of violence into France, to try and draw Paris into the conflict in opposition to the Islamists and in support for the Algerian state.”
Nasiri realized the GIA was undermining the genuine Islamic struggle and he suddenly found that the French and British intelligence were his allies (however dubious) against rogue elements in the Algerian military dictatorship. Nasiri, who seems to be a sincere Muslim, bitterly opposed to the Wahhabis and Salafis, did not prevent any spectacular terrorist attacks, but by monitoring the jihadist movement in Europe in the 1990s, was instrumental in helping intelligence agencies keep track of recruiting. His loudly proclaimed motive in helping the French and British security forces was to prevent terrorism, though he still wants imperialists out (and told his minders so to the end), and wants a dignified Muslim culture not modeled on the West.
“What I want more than anything is to save Islam from these terrible excesses and innovations.” The insurgents buying Israeli Uzi machine guns was humiliating, but “now something much worse is happening: we’re fighting our wars using our enemies’ tactics. If we, as Muslims, let ourselves become like them—which is to say, like you—then there will be nothing left to fight for. This is my jihad.”
On BBC in 2006 he said that the UK intelligence services were warned in the mid-1990s about the threat posed by al-Qaeda, but failed to act quickly enough. He ended his covert activities by 2000, offered to renew them after 9/11 but was snubbed by the German intelligence. He now lives under a pseudonym. His memoirs are an indictment of both the West’s policies in the Middle East and the bureaucratic bungling of the intelligence agencies.
Morten Storm is a very different kettle of fish. Born in 1976 in a troubled (white) environment, he was abused as a child, joined the feared Bandidos gang, and became a tough criminal convicted of multiple armed robberies and violence, earning up to $10,000 a week smuggling drugs through Europe. As a social outcast, he befriended Muslim immigrants, and converted to Islam in 1997 at the age of 21, inspired by a fellow prisoner Suleiman. A lost soul in search of meaning, he visited the (Salafi) Regent’s Park mosque, and was quickly recruited and offered a free study program in Yemen.
He adopted the Salafi Islamic package wholesale, even telling the head of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Yemen, Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, that “you will lead me to hellfire,”since the MB are “innovators where it suited their political ends”, supporting the concept of democratic elections. (Zindani is no shrinking violet. Banned from the US since 2004 as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”, he was acquainted with Osama bin Laden and Anwar Awlaki.)
Storm became a street militant and martial-arts trainer in London, joining the inner circle of leading radical cleric Omar Bakri who was active in Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun in the UK (he was arrested in 2010 in Lebanon).
Storm’s dubious credibility, given his background, never seemed to have bothered his Salafi brothers. But his Islam soon proved to be skin-deep. He missed his cocaine, drinking and cavorting, and was successfully recruited by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) in 2006, after a crisis of faith. He couldn’t accept the Salafi “drumbeat of jihadism … moving on from the defence of Muslim lands towards a declaration of war against all disbelievers.”
He flitted back and forth from the UK and Denmark to Yemen, and befriended Anwar al-Awlaki, even arranging his final marriage—to a Croatian Muslim convert ‘Aminah’ (born Irena Horak) in 2010, for which the CIA paid him $250,000 (his memoirs proudly include a picture of the suitcase full of US dollars).

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