The suicide bomber who killed eight people at a US base in Afghanistan said he was carrying out the attack in response to the death of Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader killed by a US drone.
In a video released to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Hammam Khalil al-Balawi is shown shooting a gun as he describes how the attack would target US and Jordanian intelligence agents.
Seven American CIA officers were among the dead when al-Balawi, a “double agent” recruited by Jordanian intelligence services to inform on al-Qaeda, blew himself up at the base in Khost, a province bordering Pakistan.
“This is a message to the enemies of the Umma [nation], to the Jordanian intelligence and the CIA,” al-Balawi said in his video.
The eighth victim of the suicide attack was a Jordanian intelligence officer, identified by Jordan’s state news agency Petra as Captain Sharif Ali bin Zeid.
“To retaliate for his death in the United States and outside the United States will remain an obligation on all emigrants who were harboured by Baitullah Mehsud.”
Mehsud was the leader of the Pakistani Taliban umbrella organisation, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and was blamed for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks in the country.
He was initially reported dead after a missile fired by a US drone hit his house in the Zangar area of South Waziristan on August 5 last year, but it was not until later that month that the group acknowledged his death.
Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban commander who succeeded Baitullah Mehsud as the leader of the umbrella group, is shown sitting next to al-Balawi in Saturday’s video.
“God willing his successor the Emir of Pakistan’s Taliban Hakimullah will go on the same methodology and the same path until we achieve victory or meet the same fate like that of Hamza Abdul Muttaleb,” al-Balawi said.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Swat valley, said that the video showed “there was clearly a link between the Pakistani Taliban, headed by Hakimullah Mehsud, and some of the al-Qaeda elements operating in the area”.
“This was a video that was expected, everyone was told al-Balawi had recorded a message before he went on this mission.”
Al-Balawi, who had been brought to the base in eastern Afghanistan by car from across the border in Pakistan, is believed to have offered the CIA new information on the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda second in command.
He had apparently duped his employers into believing that statements he had made in the past on websites about wanting to die as a martyr were part of his cover.
In a September 2009 posting on a website run by al-Qaeda, according to SITE, al-Balawi wrote: “If [a Muslim] dies in the cause of Allah, he will grant his words glory that will be permanent marks on the path to guide to jihad, with permission from Allah.
“If love of jihad enters a man’s heart, it will not leave him even if he wants to do so. Indeed, what he sees of luxurious palaces will remind him of positions of the martyrs in the higher heaven.”
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Kabul, said that al-Balawi’s video message would provide the Afghan government with “more ammunition” with which to criticise their counterparts in Pakistan.
“This is definitely something that is going to put more pressure on the Pakistanis in the future and will definitely make the Afghans and the Americans change their strategy as far as dealing with eastern Afghanistan.”
The attack in Khost was the worst single loss of life for the CIA since the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut in 1983.