Thursday, November 16, 2006
Jihadist spied on al Qaeda for western governments
The man I'm interviewing, "Omar Nasiri," keeps his real name a secret. He does so, he says, in order to protect himself from all the people he's double-crossed over his years as a Western spy and a jihadist.

We meet in a small upscale Parisian hotel. It's comfortable, but Nasiri is not. He's come to tell me about his new book "Inside the Jihad," which is about his life spying inside al Qaeda.

We couldn't film his face, because although he claims to support a global jihad, or holy war, to drive the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan, he says he has sold so many jihadi secrets to French, British, and then German intelligence agencies that he believes most jihadists would kill him if they could.

Our interview is fragmented. He needs to smoke -- a lot -- and his publisher tells me he's still raw emotionally. My questions, she says, probe events he still hasn't come to terms with, like a bombing in Algeria that killed more than 40 people, including women and children.

Nasiri may have driven the explosives that were ultimately used in the bombing from Europe to Morocco, but he can't be sure. The GIA, an Algerian militant group, was directly responsible for the bombing.

Nasiri is clearly conflicted. He's the only jihadi I've met who likes booze.

I wanted to understand him, get at his motivations. He spied, he says, to protect his family. Algerian militants had moved into his family's home in Belgium at the invitation of some of his brothers. They planned attacks from there and stored weapons in the house.

Nasiri figured that if the house got raided his mother and younger brother, who he says was not aligned with the militants, would wind up in jail, so he started spying to forestall a raid.

But that was in the beginning. Once he proved his worth, the Moroccan borm Nasiri says French intelligence officials sent him to infiltrate al Qaeda's Afghan training camps.

He says he's met senior al Qaeda leaders, although not Osama Bin Laden, and trained on explosives, poisons and combat. And he has a warning for the West -- pulling out of Iraq won't stop the global jihad.

He doesn't sound angry, more like someone who thinks he's handing out useful advice.
Posted By Nic Robertson, CNN International Correspondent: 5:18 PM ET
What? Who is this guy? Oh, this interview I've go to see. He says he "is still coming to terms" with an Algerian bomb that killed 40 yet he supports the jihad.

The jihad of Islamic extremism has one goal: the extermination of anyone who doesn't convert. It's either death or convert.

What part of "they're preaching death or convert to Islam" don't people get? Any religion that teaches death to another religion because people won't convert to that religion is wrong.

To me the term jihad just means "cut your throat if you aren't Muslim."
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 5:57 PM ET
Hi Nic,
Well, I guess the facts speak for themselves. It may be hard to hear but I believe he's right, terrorism will not end when we leave Iraq. But until the WHOLE world says enough is enough we'll be just spitting into the wind. Maybe we should give a mirror to the world community and let them say with a straight face they are helping end terrorism. People hate to hear the "You're with us or against us." But on some level there is some truth in that. No problem is ever solved without a majority tackling the problem together. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 6:08 PM ET
They said Western Intelligence services would never be able to infiltrate the Islamic inner circle. But if history is any teacher it shows that given enough time any organization can be cracked.
Posted By Anonymous Billy D. - Arlington, TX : 6:17 PM ET
It appears to me that this particular jihadist is very conflicted! He wants to be liked by both sides so neither will kill him. I do not quite understand though why he supports jihad and is giving advice to the West. I wonder are there more jihadists like this who just want to "go with the flow of the moment." Are they just compelled to hate the west for their own good, or are they truly against the west. I never would have even thought of it, Jihadist peer pressure. WOW!!
This looks as if it will be a fascinating interview. I look forward to the story.
Posted By Anonymous Madeliene Bolden, Atlanta, Georgia : 6:22 PM ET
In response to xtina's comments, Islam does not tell its followers to 'kill if someone if they do not convert to Islam'. Any such perceptions of Islam are ludacris.

The preachings of people that Nasiri has infiltrated are far from what Islam teaches. No where does the religion advocate the killing of innocent people or forcing them to convert.
Posted By Anonymous Asad, Memphis - TN : 6:27 PM ET
Interestingly, this item made me recall the Venezualan-born terrorist, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal. When the New York Times reported his arrest in the Sudan and transport to France to stand trial during 1994, they described his tenure in Syria as "dead drunk in Damascus."

Such fade-outs to insignifigance seem to be the fates of characters such as Carlos and perhaps also Mr Nasiri, whose legend no doubt looms large in his own mind. Why else would he publish? Perhaps, if he survives by being imprisoned somewhere, Mr Nasiri will get to exchange letters with powerful, sympathetic personalities.

After all, the Jackal carries on a correspodence with Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuala, and recently was privileged to learn that Mr Chavez called him, "my friend," at the OPEC meeting held in Caracas during June. No doubt that comforted him in his cell. One can only wonder which movers and shakers will send their heartwarming greetings to Mr Nasiri.
Posted By Anonymous Adam Sterling, Bronx, NY : 6:28 PM ET
I sure hope you left details out of your blog. You may well have given too much. Not that I care if this guy or his family gets whacked. But still, you're selling information that could get a lot more people besides this 'jihadist' killed (neighbors of this family to start?). Personally, I don't much care for any Islamist (yes, I know that's prejudice but maybe I'm not a perfect person who can love all my neighbors) but when enough details of your interview are printed, is there not a fear that others could be harmed because of your blog? I hope you actually met in Germany and the she was a he.
Posted By Anonymous Tom Stoltz, Huslia, Alaska : 6:34 PM ET
Hello Nic~
I don't think it is a news flash that pulling out of Iraq won't stop the global jihad. The important thing to remember is that staying hasn't stopped them either. It's has just caused more bloodshed. I feel sorry for Nasiri. The way you describe him sounds like he is closer to a breakdown than simply emotionally raw. This has to be a terrible existence for him. I hope his life somehow improves. Jihadist can't drink booze? Hmmm. How pure. Well Nic, it will be a fasinating interview. I look forward to seeing it. Thanks for bringing it to us.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 6:35 PM ET
Who is this guy is right! As far as we know this guy could be a double agent.. funny how he comes forward right in time for the Democrats to argue for redeployment.
Posted By Anonymous Jose, Hackensack N.J. : 6:35 PM ET
To Asad,

Islam may not teach its followers to kill someone who doesn't convert. But crazy Islam does.

It's the same difference between Christianity and crazy Christianity.

All the normal Muslims, Christians, etc. of the world unite!
Posted By Anonymous Sam, New York, NY : 6:41 PM ET
To Asad,

Islam may not teach its followers to kill someone who doesn't convert. But crazy Islam does.

It's the same difference between Christianity and crazy Christianity.

All the normal Muslims, Christians, etc. of the world unite!
Posted By Anonymous Sam, New York, NY : 6:42 PM ET
he did it not bacause of his family but for the money .
Posted By Anonymous nasiri ,morocco : 6:42 PM ET
The jihadists remind me of nothing more than the conquistadors and missionaries who sailed forth from Europe with the specific design to convert or kill all in their path. If the Islamic militants kill even one hundreth of the numbers killed by the Christian fanatics we are all in deep trouble.

As for the interview it sounds fake, especially as he gives more than enough personal information (Belgium, brothers, etc) to figure out who he is if one has the background. I would take this all with a large pinch of salt!
Posted By Anonymous Jak King, Vancouver, BC : 6:45 PM ET
One of two things are the truth: either he is lying through his teeth for whatever reason, or he is telling the truth and in the next few days al queda will figure out who he is and will kill him simply by the information just given in the interview. Are you kidding me?? Any organization worth its salt could narrow down who the informer is just from what that guy said. Due to the instincts of self-preservation, my guess is that he is making the whole shin-dig up.
Posted By Anonymous Benson, Hanover, NH : 6:49 PM ET
The fact that this person claims to be a jihadist and has come forward to offer advice seems contrary to what a jihadist would do, in my experience, despite trying to protect his family.

Also, Asad is correct: we must remember that people of Islam in today�s world need to be re-educated about the real teachings of Islam, because what the world now knows as Islam is, unfortunately, distorted by the Wahabbi'ist version of Islam. It's kind of like the Seventh-Day Adventists being the dominant version of Christianity: their version is of the minority, and very skewed to support their way of thinking.

Islam - until about 250 years ago - not only acknowledged the other religions and cultures as viable, it outright stated that Islam would only fulfill its destiny if they held the Jews as brothers. Jews were recognized as important to the followers of Islam. The extremely militant Wahabbi'ist sub-culture gave rise to the concept of the Jews as enemies and mass killings as a way of life.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry, Fort Lauderdale, FL : 6:50 PM ET
In the article: "he says he has sold so many jihadi secrets to French, British, and then German intelligence agencies..."

So he "sells" his secrets??
This guy is just doing this for money, because he is greedy, not because he believes spying for the west is right.
Every man has their price.
Posted By Anonymous David H.P., Ottawa, Ont. : 6:55 PM ET
To Xtina:

Please do some research on Islam. You have the completely wrong idea of the basis of their religion. Some have bastardized the religion for their own sick purpose.

Jihad only means "holy war", nowhere does it state in the definition what acts will occur that is the choice of the "warriors".

"Despite the popular phrase "ignorance is bliss" (coined by Thomas Gray in 1742), most religions are adamant that it does more harm than good. For instance, Islam views ignorance as a particular and unique evil that can and should easily be dispelled: "Seek knowledge, even as far as China." - Muhammad."

And no I'm not Islam but I do believe in knowledge.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 6:59 PM ET
This sounds very interesting. I remain confident that jihad is not black and white, and that the people who are most conflicted and have to try hardest to convince themselves that it IS black and white are the jihadists themselves.

As for his admonition that "pulling out of Iraq won't stop the global jihad": of course it won't. Pulling out of Iraq won't make candy fall from the sky, it won't make all the world love America, and it won't stop the jihadis who have been fighting since before there even was an Iraq. That doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do, and staying in Iraq certainly wouldn't stop the jihad either.
Posted By Anonymous Hunter, Albuquerque, NM : 7:00 PM ET
I think that he is not a a jihadist. He is a liar.

Because he was smoking. Fanatic Moslems, as jihadists, did not smoke.
Posted By Anonymous Kibicer, Skopje, R.Macedonia : 7:08 PM ET
Its rather funny that this person thinks the West needs his advice. What we need is sanity which is something these terrorists lack. What they need to understand is that this war is causing the destruction of their own people. Yet this does not seem to matter.

They are insane enough to think they will win. Americans hold 9-11 and those towers in our very breath. This islamic Jihad will pay the price for their insanity as will their people by their own self destruction. There is no such truth as killing in the name of God. Killing and evil belong to man, not to God.

They wont destroy America. They dont have that power.
Justice will prevail one day even in the midst of the most vile human actions. "We the people" are our Government and We The People, are America. We the people will NEVER bow down to the filth of evil. We will walk with dignity and one day this war as all wars will takes its place in the pages of history. the terrorists will be only one more dark stain on humanity.
Posted By Anonymous J. Rae Niles Santa Monica California : 7:09 PM ET
Hi Nic;
Is this guy for real?? Honestly it sounds like he's suffering from multiple personalities. I'd venture to say though that he sounds more jihadist than anything, he has very little respect for human life. Suffice it to say he'd better get that book published fast, he's liable to find himself 'sleeping with the fishes'.
If I were you I sure wouldn't turn my back on him!!
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 7:13 PM ET
Informants are the lowest form of life on earth. You can't trust a word they say, especially if you're paying for it. Look at Chalabi, darling of the neocons. Paid to say what they wanted to hear. Pull out of Iraq tomorrow and turn Bush & Co. over to the international war crimes tribunal as a good will gesture. Terrorism will end the next day.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Huntington, N.Y. : 7:13 PM ET
Interesting story... Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Steven Burda, Philadelphia, PA USA : 7:30 PM ET
This is a sad, but it seems to be an absolutely realistic encounter. Sometime in the future the world will realize that "terrorism" was not based on any real religious background all along. Religion is just a convenient smokescreen.
Posted By Anonymous John Griffin, Fort Pierce, FL : 7:31 PM ET
I guess money is this guys main motivation if he's publishing a book.

And isn't that what Al Queda is really going for? The overthrow of Saudi and other regimes in the Middle East to be run by radical fundamentalists.. I.E. Al Queda. Making these large oil fields their own? This of course is lost in the rhetoric of Jihad that they spout.

Our continued support for the regimes that are loyal to us, will continue to make us the focal point of their attacks.

This guy is just out to save himself and make money on the side. Which I believe is how most double agents operate. Nothing he says can be believed or denied.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Baton Rouge, LA : 7:32 PM ET
I think this story, aside from all the things in relation to terrorism, says something more important. It shows that these people are in fact human too. We were born in a country that has certain values and beliefs and we have been conditioned to respect, protect, and promulgate these values and beliefs.

This man is obviously torn because his conscience has him second guessing his beliefs. This is the very essence of freedom. We call them crazy, extremists, out of their minds - among other things.

Let us not forget history, where the radical colonists of Masschusetts were labeled dangerous and extremists by the British crown.

We cannot be so naive and arrogant to assert that our values as Americans are objective truth. There are plenty of things wrong with our entire society, for us to enforce premiscuous foreign policies and establish our interests elsewhere, is what is wrong.

America is very comparable to several societies in history, most of which fell apart from the inside. Power generates greed and greed is the product of over confidence. You know what they say, past is prologue. Let this man repent, admit his wrongs, and face whatever fate he may have in this world - for there is no one that should be able to control that.
Posted By Anonymous Dennis C., Boston, MA : 7:32 PM ET
This is why religion is whack. There is always a segment of a religious population that turns to extremist tactics. It's called insanity. I don't see that there's anything to be done to prevent these extremists from hating and attacking us-it's much too late for that. Decades of self serving politics and inherent differences in ideology and morals have contributed to that. But I don't see any reason to stay in Iraq either. There will always be some crackpot somewhere in the world who can brainwash the weak. I don't feel sorry for this guy, I think he's full of it. By his own admission, he's probably an accomplice to murder.
Bush urges against isolationism. I don't know, it's looking better and better...
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 7:32 PM ET
"Extremism" I think is the word you're looking for. Extremism is a danger to any civilization, religion, or political system. Even our own is not immune -- just look at Washington over the last 12 years. But this idea that one belief system is the only acceptable belief system, and that those opposed deserve to die, is what separates Islamic extremism from other forms. We're trying to fight a political war. The Jihadists are fighing a religious war -- something they've been doing for thousands of years. At this point they believe in their religion more than we believe in our politics. And it shows. They have young men and women willing to martyr themselves daily while we are bickering over the death of a single American soldier.

Of course the Jihad will not stop when the U.S. leaves Iraq. It will only end when other Islamic leaders in the region step in and show some backbone by condemning the actions of the extremists. And when other Islamic leaders in the region take a leadership role in calling for tolerance and peace. The West can shout all we want, but until Islam joins together to demand change, no change will be forthcoming -- and the hate will continue to grow.
Posted By Anonymous Scott, Dallas, Texas : 7:38 PM ET
Nic, how did you find this person? You guys at 360 always manage to find the most fascinating people to interview. How does this person sleep at night? How does he live his life, looking over his shoulder all the time? What a horrible way to live! Anyway, this reminds me of a movie (called "The Departed"), only there's a spy in each of the opposing camps! I thought that was hard to believe, until I read your story! Truth definitely is stranger than fiction. I look forward to your story on the show tonight! Thanks for all your work, Nic!
Posted By Anonymous Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 7:44 PM ET
So, is this guy another 'John Mark Karr' or 'Curve Ball' or an undiagnosis delusional psych case? Maybe he's real, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 7:47 PM ET
The Jihadists are attempting a modern day Crusade. The idea of a "Holy War" makes absolutely no sense because it simply cannot exist. War is in no way "sacred" or "religious". Innocent people are being killed and communities are being destroyed.

This man says he supports a global jihad. Well then by being a spy it makes him a traitor to his people. And people who are truly loyal in there beliefs do not double cross. He is good at keeping his identity a secret. If his secret was ever discovered by his people, he would flee to a country (whose people oppose jihadist beliefs) and assimilate to their society. This man found a way to get rich and ensure the safety of his family if he were ever to be caught by police. That makes him a coward to me.

Getting back to the main point im trying to make about "holy wars" is that an individuals religious beliefs are their personal decision and should be considered a private matter. People who wish to practice their beliefs publicly goto a place of worship (i.e. church, synagogue, mosque...etc) where they can interact socially.

Our post-modern society is extremely diverse and unfortunately competitive. People need to learn how to understand one another and peacefully live together. World leader's need to unite and work towards the middle of their differences. Oppossing parties, when dealing with any argument, must understand each other's point of view.

Innocent lives are being lost because people, and even certain governments, have narrow-minded viewpoints. We are in the 21st century. Conflicts need to be solved by compromise and not put off by procrastination or dealt with by force.
Posted By Anonymous Chris L, Drexel Hill, PA : 7:47 PM ET
This guy is simply a weasel that's smart enough to realize that cooperation with Western govts is the next step in his journey of self-preservation. Don't get me wrong, I support jihadists defecting and providing the West with information about terrorists...but the ones that do so while still espousing the hateful tenets of fundamentalist Islam are hardly to be admired.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, New York, NY : 7:54 PM ET
Hi Nic,
Maybe Nasiri should take note of the extremist's reactions towards Salman Rushdie. Also, it makes you wonder how accurate the information is in Nasiri's case because of his severe dissonance, yet justifiable hyper-vigilance.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 8:05 PM ET
This guy seems like a joke. The fact that he drinks sums it all up for me. He looking to make some money.
Posted By Anonymous Sally, Ny NY : 8:06 PM ET
Sorry--I don't buy it. Can't trust a Jihadist spy.
Posted By Anonymous Matt, San Diego, CA : 8:06 PM ET
This guy is insignificant but the replys are interesting. In my opinion, if the President of the United States were serious about de-escalating the growing hatred in that region toward "the west" he or she would tell Iran, "go ahead and produce nuclear energy - in fact, we'll even help you in order to help avoid another Chernobyl since it would be hypocritical noty to allow you to have what we feel deserved of and we have the superior technology and know how. Build a bomb and drop it on Isreal however and you'll look up to see dozens of incoming ICBM's with multiple nuclear warheads. Also, like a big brother between two squabbling siblings, if the Isreal's hit the Palestinians we'll deck you economically and withdraw any and all support and visa-versa." I for one am sick of the back and forth tit-for tat. No more Mr. Nice guy to either side!! The Palestinians obviously aren't going to quit fighting for what they believe is their inherant right and nor are the Isrealis. It's time to stop taking sides and start treating both societies like out of control brats. If anything, I'd empathize more with the courageous Palestinians who are willing to fight jets and missilles with sling shots and sticks! Isreal needs a serious wake up call and a fair and balanced approach from the US would go along way toward creatign some empathy toward us.
Posted By Anonymous Chris Sylvada, Encinitas CA : 8:41 PM ET
Hi Nic,
Okay, just another thought... If Yusef Islam, a.k.a Cat Stevens, wants to come over for a beer, Nasiri might want to reconsider.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 8:47 PM ET
This story doesn't add up. If he is so concerned about his privacy, why would hey say he may have driven the bombs in Algeria? Wouldn't that blow his cover? I think this is a piece of pro-American propaganda making an attempt at placing a wedge of mistrust within jihadi circles. A noble goal, yet a transparent method.
Posted By Anonymous Stephan King, Cumberland, RI : 8:51 PM ET
Well Nic it seems some of those who read your article still don't believe the messenger. These people are cold blooded killers and Europe and the United States are clearly in their sights.
Trace this back to recent history, 1979, when the Carter administration, blinded by the "let's all get along" mentality allowed the Muslin extremist to take a country, Iran. These radicals declared war on the United States then, there was no Pearl Harbor or World Trade Center but they and their Jahidist wherre behind the killing of the Marines in Beruit, the hijacking of multiple airliners, the murder of a navy diver, of Mr. Klinghoffer, Kohbar Towers, the first attack on the WTC, the embassies in Africa and then the wake-up call with the Towers and Pentagon. But 60% of us have gone back to sleep and "just want to play nice." As a nation, we just don't get it. These people plan to kill us, they say that to their people, just like Hitler did, but we are so stupid and ignorant of the geo-politics of hate embedded in their religion. The web of terror has run and runs from; Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and the Palestinian camps. Iran was protecting one of the greatest terrorist of the 1980, Abul Nadal, until he became inconvient and shot himself multiple times in the head...certainly one of Saddam's acts.

If those in the media don't take off those rose colored glasses that most have had since the 60's and 70's the world will become a much more dangerous place to live. I predict in less than 5 years open armed insurrection will come to the west and the "good" life will be over.

We better believe every word they say and those in the media need to expose every word that Hammas says, the fool in Iran, and all the other terrorist.
Osama was just the tip to this jahad. He's a none player at this point...hiding in cave like a rat. We need to take this war to every hidding place and like an exterminator kill them...they don't get trials; Nick Berg didn't get a trial, he just got his head cut off. Beheading is part of this culture, when I was in the Middle East in 1990-1991 they wanted Americans to see the executions in "chop/chop square", in Riyadh.
Many more will die due to our ignorance and lack of realism with what we are faced.
Posted By Anonymous Carl M. Dozier, Chesapeake, Virginia : 9:01 PM ET
This just disproves the thesis that Jihadists can't be reasoned with. As a nation once we believe that our enemies can't be reasoned with, we throw away one of our greatest tools in the so-called fight against terror, Persuasion
Posted By Anonymous Adam Sampsell, East Rochester, NY : 9:15 PM ET
Pulling out of Iraq won't stop the global jihad, true. The causes and the reasons for it are so deep rooted its pointless to debate them anymore, and its pretty clear that military action over in the middle east isnt going to stop them.

However, what WERE to really happen if they came and "invaded" America. Would people really give up their freedoms for a Muslim government? I dont think so. Would Americans with our history and heritage conform to a way of life that is completly alien? And out of fear? I dont think so either.

ONce the jihadists try to establish any sort of infrastrcuture within a non-muslim country, thats it. They can blow up cars and houses as much as they like, but they cant create a government where they arent wanted. Government needs infrastructure to function, and jihadists are only good at taking it down. Getting out of Iraq is the key to making them want to build in a non-Muslim country, and that will be when radical Islam begins to crumble
Posted By Anonymous Michael, East Brunswick, NJ : 9:35 PM ET
There are radicals everywhere. All around us. And it's only the Muslims that are portrayed as extremists who wanna wipe the rest of us out. It's a ridiculous notion, to be honest, and I am appalled that everyone feeds into the stuff the media throws at us. It's silly. Before I judge anyone or anything, I will do my research on them and try to understand them. And my research constitutes going further than CNN or FOX. For any of us to generalize and just hate all Muslims/Middle-Easterns/etc... makes us just as much of "terrorists" as they are. And I put terrorist in quotes because I believe that the use of the word has gotten out of hand. Terrorism this. Terrorism that. Last I checked, nobody called Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, a terrorist...
Posted By Anonymous Nadine, Ottawa, Canada : 12:36 AM ET
September 11th, 2001. Is a day we should never forget.

March 2003. We went to war.

For 1 1/2 years we did not have an attach on US soil.

Keep believing that this War is keeping you safe.
Keep believing that all of Islam is evil. (So was Russia in my day.)
Keep believing that we can win a war against an enemy with no face.
Keep believing . . .
Posted By Anonymous Renae, Appleton, WI : 11:10 AM ET
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