Suicide bomber entered US base as potential CIA informant



The bomber, who killed seven CIA officials and injured six others, was allowed to enter the compound without the mandatory security screening and search, the ABC news said today based on information received from CIA officers.
It said the bomber, invited to the Forward Operating Base in the Khost province as a possible informant, was escorted to the gym at the fortified complex for a meeting with a senior CIA debriefer.
"When the bomber, who was dressed in an Afghan military uniform, arrived in the gym, he blew himself up, killing seven and seriously injuring an additional six officers who had gathered there to wait for him," the news channel said.
The second-largest single-day loss for America's premier spy agency, reports said, has devastated the critical hub of CIA activities.
The US embassy bombing in Beirut that killed eight CIA officers in 1983 is considered to be the deadliest attack so far on the agency.
US President Barack Obama and CIA Director Leon E Panetta, have mourned the death of the CIA employees and wrote personal messages.

"It is obviously a significant impact at Langley (CIA headquarters in Virginia), but also across IC (intelligence community)," a senior Administration official said, adding Obama was very concerned about it.
The death of several CIA officials is seen as having devastating impact on agency's operations in the region.
"This is a tremendous loss for the agency. The agency is a relatively small organisation, and its expertise in al Qaeda is even a smaller subset of that overall group," Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA unit that searched for Osama bin Laden, told the ABC News.
The Wall Street Journal said the loss is all the more damaging because those lost represented "so much collective experience".
They were "experienced frontline officers and their knowledge and expertise will be sorely missed" and not easily regenerated, Henry A Crumpton, who led the CIA campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, was quoted as saying.
The New York Times said the CIA base at Khost had been a focal point for counter terrorism operations against the Haqqani network, a particularly lethal militant group that operates on both sides of the Afghan border.
"Those guys have recently been on a big Haqqani binge," a Pentagon consultant told the daily.
The Washington Post said the Khost base is heavily involved in the selection of al-Qaeda and Taliban targets for drone aircraft strikes.

"The drones themselves are flown from separate bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because of its location near a hotbed of insurgent activity, the base is also a centre for recruiting and debriefing informants, the officials said, and it would not be unusual for local Afghans to be admitted to the facility for questioning," the Post said.
Meanwhile the CNN said two of the seven CIA officers killed were contractors for Xe, a private security firm formerly known as Blackwater.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
"This attack will be avenged through successful, aggressive counterterrorism operations," an intelligence official was quoted as saying.
Flags at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, flew at half-staff yesterday.

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