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Al Balawi: After Ata and al Jarrah - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The life story of the Jordanian youth Humam Khalil al Balawi, also known as Abu Dujana al Khurasani, who blew himself up killing CIA and Jordanian intelligence agents in Afghanistan two weeks ago, renders our several convictions and interpretations of the Al Qaeda organization over the past few years seem rather dubious and baseless.

There is no doubt that al Balawi’s story is ideal for studying and scrutinizing not only in terms of the catastrophic failure of two important intelligence agencies, but also on the humanitarian and doctrinal level, as it ended with him blowing up himself.

The story of the successful and calm Jordanian physician who was born into a conservative family of Palestinian descent reminds us of Al Qaeda’s most renowned suicide bombers, Mohammed Ata and Zyad Jarrah. After thinking that examples like Ata and Jarrah are dead and gone as a result of the blows that had been struck against Al Qaeda’s leadership and elements, we realize that we have been fooled into thinking that the attraction to Al Qaeda had waned, especially following the emergence of a complete generation of senior terrorist models such as Abu Musab al Zarqawi, known as the “butcher” in Jihadist forums and praised in one of al Balawi’s writings.

The attraction to this organization did not disappear and its chief, Osama Bin Laden, still inspires many Jihadist youths. The operation carried out by Abu Dujana – that was considered a large-scale and unprecedented infiltration of the CIA and the Jordanian intelligence agency – has turned him into a hero for those who visit Jihadist websites.

All the information points out that Abu Dujana lived two contradictory lives; one as Humam the outstanding student and the successful physician and husband, and later as Abu Dujana al Khurasani, the Jihadist character who was formed and structured, who wrote articles online and was recruited by intelligence agencies and Al Qaeda.

Without doubt, Abu Dujana al Khurasani was a professional player on the internet, and this factor contributed to his “Jihadist character.” This time we have reached the crux of the matter. The internet shaped the character of [Abu Dujana] who carried out a suicide attack in Khost, Afghanistan. This character made a smooth and calm transfer from the virtual reality of this character through online writings and relationships into real life and this was embodied in al Balawi’s move to Pakistan and the severing of relations between the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the one hand, and the CIA and Jordanian intelligence agency on the other.

We should stop and think about this point; the internet here was not an incubator for premeditated action, rather it is was what created action.

Abu Dujana al Khurasani is an example of a relapse of all the efforts exerted since 9/11. However, he also represents a shift towards the post-Mohammed Ata and Zyad Jarrah era. The camera that took a picture of the aircraft as it crashed into the World Trade Centre is the same camera that carried out this attack. It was not an intermediary but a tool in the direct sense of the word.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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