• Book Review: Agent Storm, My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA

    September 10, 2014

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen

    Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA is a worthy read; if it was fiction it might be called “a good yarn.” The book is instead straight-up non-fiction, making it all the more interesting as a window into the world of modern espionage.

    An Enthusiastic Muslim

    The book is the “as told to” autobiography of Morten Storm. Storm grew up on the dark side of Denmark, a tough, a brawler, a street gang member who always looked for a fight and usually found one. He did some jail time, and lived on the outskirts of society, surviving well enough off Denmark’s generous social welfare system. Socially and spiritually adrift, he was a quick convert to Islam, driven into his new faith by a chance encounter with a library book on the life of The Prophet. The descriptions of the built-in camaraderie of the mosques shows their appeal to disenfranchised youth.

    Storm quickly found a way to combine his street smarts with his new faith, gravitating into the growing European jihadi underground. He soon moved to the UK, taking up life in “Londonistan,” the slang term for England’s dark underbelly of Muslim immigrants. Like them, Storm felt marginalized, left out, looked down on and began moving in ever-more radical circles. Despite his over six foot height and bright red hair, he found himself well-accepted. An encounter with a fellow Muslim, who died almost in his arms, propelled Storm to Yemen in search of meaning for his own life. His devotion to Islamic studies and his tough attitude saw him befriended not just by his classmates, but soon by Anwar al-Awlaki himself. Storm takes on all sorts of courier missions for the cleric and becomes a member of his trusted inner circle.

    A Double-Agent

    Another chance event suddenly has Storm again reverse course. He falls in with Danish intelligence and Britain’s MI5/MI6 and becomes a double-agent. His second conversion is marked by a bacon sandwich and a beer with his new intel friends to seal the deal. He begins accepting money and taskings from both the British and the Danes.

    Storm quickly becomes invaluable, exploiting his connections with al-Awlaki and apparently nearly every significant jihadi in Europe to the advantage of his handlers. He finally attracts the attention of the CIA, which dispatches case officers to work with him toward one goal: pinpoint the location of al-Awlaki so the Americans can assassinate him. Storm agrees and over a series of events, the American citizen cleric is indeed assassinated by an American drone (along with his 16 year old son, also a U.S. citizen.) The CIA, however, double-crosses Storm, denies him the $250,000 payment promised for his work and eventually drives the big Dane in from the cold. His last conversion is to go to the media with his tale, and leave the world of espionage behind.

    Tradecraft

    Without a doubt the very best parts of the book expose a bit of intelligence tradecraft. Unlike what one sees in movies and reads in (fictional) spy books, “spying” is 90 percent working patiently with people, with just a little high-tech thrown in. The book portrays this accurately, showing the best spies are more like skilled psychiatrists than hardened killers. A few details of the recruitment process appear to have been left out, perhaps for security reasons, perhaps because of the unusual three-way sharing of Storm. In real life, case officers of the CIA (the KGB, the Danish security services, MI5/MI6…) spend a lot of time seeking out people (“agents”) who can be convinced to betray their organization or nation. Motives vary, and a smart case officer will pay close attention to what his/her agent really wants– money, adventure, sex, etc. We watch as Storm is cleverly manipulated with both money and the lure of adrenaline rushes, and as his failed fervor for Islam and desire to provide for his family is worked against him.

    Of equal interest are the contrasts drawn among the three services involved in handling Storm. The Danes are friendly, clubby, out for a good time even as they subtly draw Storm in and play him off against the Brits and the Yanks. The British impress with their professionalism and appeal to Storm’s sense of adventure, setting him up for sessions in arctic survival with an ex-Royal Marine and shooting lessons with an SAS man.

    Then there is the CIA. Storm saves the Americans for his most unflattering portrayal, painting them as impatient, and ready to hand over obscene amounts of money when needed, only then to double-cross their “man” inside al Qaeda when needed. The CIA has another agent, secretly, alongside Storm and never even feigns to trust either of them. The CIA’s simplistic and crude handling is one of the main drivers behind Storm’s break with the intel world.

    A Few Criticisms

    A few criticisms mark an otherwise decent read. Storm is not shy about his own accomplishments, taking personal credit for a number of significant intelligence successes during the years he worked as a double-agent. One does wonder how accurate such an accounting is, suggesting as it does that the combined European and U.S. spy agencies had very few other people on the inside. Storm is also quite casual, almost dismissive, about how easy it was for him to gain the complete trust of hardened terrorists, despite his very recent infidel past and quick conversion to Islam. The bad guys never really put his allegiance to the test absent a few word games, leaving the question of if al Qaeda’s operational security is really so lame why the intel agencies did not have hundreds of inside men and women. Apparently one need only send the average red-haired European Viking into Yemen claiming he is a recent Muslim convert and bam! you have infiltrated the world of terror.

    Conclusion

    Storm’s own blustery self-image and the bit of unrealness noted aside, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA is a decent read for anyone watching the world of intelligence who also appreciates a good story.




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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • pitchfork said...

      1

      Peter said..”…Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA is a decent read for anyone watching the world of intelligence who also appreciates a good story.”unquote

      Good story perhaps. Disinfo more likely. After reading in depth about CIA’s consummate spook, Edward Lansdale, and related revelations by virtue of another CIA insider, Col. Leroy Fletcher Prouty, I’m totally convinced now that CIA disinformation is so entrenched throughout the world, trusting any CURRENT information is at best entertainment, at worst, twisting the worlds understanding of this vicious, psychopathic criminal cartel.

      I keep relating Jim Garrison’s assessment of the CIA/DOD as being our real “government”, and notwithstanding their current power to keep the Senate Torture report from ever seeing the light of day, read this letter from Col. Prouty to Garrison. Within, read his review of a certain “book” regarding another CIA spook. Not to mention his insights into the real dark side of CIA and the National Security State by way of his own books, like…
      “Leroy Fletcher Prouty, The Secret Team (1973)”

      “Leroy Fletcher Prouty, An Introduction to the Assassination Business (1975)”

      Fucking scary what these people really are and what has really taken place.
      On Prouty himself…
      http://www.prouty.org/
      The letter to Garrison..
      http://www.prouty.org/letter.html
      and the focus of his letter..
      http://spartacus-educational.com/COLDlansdale.htm
      And then..there’s this..
      National Security Council Special Group or Forty Committee
      http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/40Comm.html
      I’ve spent two weeks following links on those sites. This shit is beyond unbelievable.

      On a side note Peter..do you recognize these people? You should.

      quote”Over the past five years, the Shee Atiká family of companies has provided almost a billion dollars of contractual support to the Government, examples of which include planners supporting the projected move of the Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam; engineers working in the aerospace industry; educational and training personnel who have revised Marine Corps Air Command training manuals and procedures; linguists, interpreters and role players supporting special forces operations in the Middle East and elsewhere; and subject matter experts providing support to the State Department’s Provision Reconstruction Teams (e.g., construction, rule of law, medicine, and government) for the reconstruction of Iraq.

      http://www.sheeatikamanagement.com/relationship-with-other-shee-atika-companies

      Rule of law? Right. Well..they should know how it works when it comes to Sole Source advantages..
      http://www.sheeatikamanagement.com/the-anc-sole-source-advantage

      Unfuckingbelievable. Hubris of biblical proportions.

      I’m done.

      09/10/14 12:54 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      2

      VERY INTERESTING. Many of the contracts in Iraq were also to “alaskan native companies,” or at least front companies, so they could single-source them. Bastards.

      09/10/14 4:25 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      3

      Also, more corporate sleaze profits from our never-ending wars: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/08/special-ops-corporate-bonanza/

      09/10/14 4:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      For fans of fiction, there’s always the “Tales of Wrongway Kerry-again”

      http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/09/10/5165069/kerry-says-us-troops-might-deploy.html#.VBCST6

      09/10/14 6:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      5

      As per Rich’s link…”Kerry says US troops might deploy.”

      Right. Remember? I gave it inside of 6 months. Now I’m predicting this will turn into the US’s worst nightmare within a year. Meanwhile, James Clapper gets everthing he wants, CODIFIED, by virtue of Leahy’s bullshit lie..

      http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/09/10/usa-freedom-acts-so-called-transparency-provisions-enable-illegal-domestic-surveillance/

      USA FREEDOM ACT. This is the absolute most sadistic slap in the Framers face ever to be perpetrated in the history of the USA. If I could I would spit in Leahy’s face.

      These fuckers redefine the word TRAITOR.

      09/10/14 6:52 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      6

      ps.. I know they did this just to spite Snowden. PERIOD.

      09/10/14 6:52 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      7

      oh, I forgot…

      bartender..three bottles of TwoRollingEyes and a shot of DoubleFacePalm..fukit..leave the bottle. Who cares now.

      09/10/14 6:54 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      8

      let read to The Wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld:
      “There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
      There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
      But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

      Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/modern-art-was-cia-weapon-1578808.html

      09/10/14 9:53 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      9

      “Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’”

      That does it. I’ve seen it all now. Next, someone will provide the proof Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best was a CIA plot to ..well, I’ll leave it to your imagination.

      I’m beginning to believe the entire United States is an illusion created by MKUltra.

      09/11/14 11:26 AM | Comment Link

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