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CIA suicide attacker's wife 'shocked' but proud

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Alleged double-agent's kin speaks
  • Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi thought to be bomber who killed 7 CIA operatives
  • The Jordanian grew up a loner, wanted to go to medical school, mother says
  • His wife, a translator in Turkey, "shocked" to hear what he had been accused of
  • Al-Balawi's father said he received call from Afghan saying son died a hero

Amman, Jordan (CNN) -- The wife of an alleged suicide bomber who killed eight people at a U.S. base in Afghanistan last week says she is shocked by his actions but "proud" of what he did.

Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi -- a Jordanian doctor identified as the attacker -- said she doubted accusations her husband had been an intelligence agent, but was satisfied he did not die in vain.

"I am proud of my husband. My husband accomplished a very big operation in such a war," she told reporters. "If he is a martyr, may God accept his martyrdom."

Al-Balawi has been named as the suspected bomber behind a December 30 attack on a U.S. base in Khost, in southeastern Afghanistan, that killed seven CIA officers and contractors, and a Jordanian army captain.

U.S. and Jordanian officials say al-Balawi had been recruited as a counterterrorism intelligence agent, despite concerns over his extremist views, and was being used in the hunt for a senior al Qaeda figure.

Bayrak, speaking from their home in Istanbul, told CNN Turk television she was "shocked" to hear what he had done.

Video: Alleged CIA bomber's family speak
Video: Alleged bomber's wife proud

"It is impossible for me to make a guess if he was an agent, what was his reason going there," she said. "I am not saying whether I am believing or not believing. I am trying to say, we were not expecting something like this."

Al-Balawi's mother, Shnara Fadel al-Balawi, told CNN her son, who she said had been a loner since childhood, had aspired to go to America, even telling her last year that he had booked a ticket to the United States.

It is not clear that he did go to the United States, however. His wife said he went to Pakistan for further schooling and then found work.

Bayrak, an author and Turkish-Arabic translator, said they had been continually in communication via the Internet and that he repeatedly said he was coming home.

"When he phoned us, his conversations were very normal. Since he was always talking about coming to Turkey, naturally a human being would be shocked when such news comes," she said.

His brother told CNN that al-Balawi's actions were "out of character" and that the man was "under pressure."

The man's father, who said he was shocked by his son's actions, added that he had been called from Afghanistan, by a man speaking broken Arabic who told him his son was dead and that he had died as a hero in an operation to kill CIA agents. The caller said, according to the father, the circumstances could make problems for his family and that they would have to cope.

The family didn't know whether the Afghan caller was from al Qaeda, but thinks it was some militant group.

A Jordanian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said authorities in Jordan arrested al-Balawi more than a year ago "for some suspicious information related to him," but released him because of a lack of evidence.

"After (a) few months, he got in touch with us through the Internet and sent us several e-mails that include very important and rather dangerous information that might affect the security and stability of the country," the official told CNN.

"We kept in touch with him through e-mails in order to get more information and also trying to bring him over to be able to get more information. We shared and exchanged the information he gave us with some other friendly countries that are involved in countering terrorism."

U.S. sources said bin Zeid was the Jordanian operative working closely with al-Balawi, who was from the same hometown as the onetime leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Jordanian and U.S. intelligence agencies apparently thought al-Balawi had been rehabilitated from his extremist views and were using him to hunt Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 figure, the former intelligence official said.

Former CIA official Robert Richer called the bombing the greatest loss of life for the agency since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed eight agents. An American intelligence official vowed last week that the United States would avenge the attack.

CNN's Nic Robertson, Caroline Faraj and Talia Kayali contributed to this report.

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