[ by Charles Cameron — in case you missed TH’s tweets on Storm today ]
Here’s a quick overview of Morton Storm, the complex figure who is reported to have brought Anwar al-Awlaqi a bride from Europe — and thus betrayed Awlaqi’s whereabouts to the Agency:
After converting to Islam, a former member of a Danish motorcycle gang travels to Yemen to study the Quran and soon comes in contact with radical preachers waging holy war against the West.
On the verge of becoming a jihadist, he abruptly abandons his faith and embarks on a dangerous undercover mission to help Western intelligence agencies capture or kill terrorists.
Morten Storm, 37, claims he worked for six years as an informant for the CIA, Britain’s MI5 and MI6 and Denmark’s security service, PET. All declined to comment for this article.
“Could they just say `he never worked for us’? Sometimes silence is also information,” Storm told AP in Copenhagen. “I know this is true, I know what I have done.”
Storm’s unlikely story, told in a new book and an interview with The Associated Press, has the drama and intrigue of a “Homeland” episode. But the burly, red-bearded Dane insists his tale isn’t fiction.
Storm said he decided to reveal his secret-agent life to the media – he first spoke to a Danish newspaper in October – because he felt betrayed by his agent runners.
In particular, he was upset that he wasn’t given credit for the airstrike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior al-Qaida figure, in Yemen in 2011.
Thomas Hegghammer, author of the two books depicted above, and a highly respected academic specialist in terrorism and poliical violence, tweeted:
Enjoying new book on Danish ex-jihadi Morten Storm. Some highlights:
1) Regents pk mosque da’i sends Storm to Muqbil in Yemen in 97
2) Storm travels from Sanaa to Dammaj with “Rashid”, aging Afro-American Korea vet. They join 3000 Salafists in “gigantic boy scout camp”
3) in 98, after 8 months wMuqbil, Storm goes to Sana’a to find wife. Connects with jihad vets from Bosnia, Afgh. Weds, divorces Djbouti girl
4) Back to UK, Denmark; marries in Morocco; to Yemen again in 2001; almost goes to pre 9/11 Afgh; preaches jihad in Ta’iz (2001-2) instead.
5) Returns to DK in 2002 with wife and son Osama. Joins radicals in Vollsmose. “Jihad training” (obstacle course and paintball) in Odense
6) Moves to Luton in 2003; meets Omar Bakri, Taymour Abdelwahhab; demonstrates and jihad trains (in Barton Hills) with al-Muhajiroun
7) Thought 7/7 bombings were “cool”; found Bakri and Choudhry too soft; went to Yemen again in Jan 2006 but found no jihadis to join
8) Prepared to fight in Somalia in late 2006, but trip called off. Annoyed, he starts to doubt; turns completely after 2 weeks of googling
9) becomes PET informant in Jan 2007; sent to Tripoli, Lebanon in April to report on Raed Hlayhel, Omar Bakri, Fath al-Islam.
10) Meets w/MI6 and CIA (Jennifer Matthews) in spring of 2007; sent to UK for spy training; then travels between DK, UK, Kenya and Yemen.
11) Storm had taken classes with Awlaqi in 2006; Awlaqi helped Storm find a wife. Storm back in Sana in Aug 2008, they reconnect.
12) Aug: 2008: Awlaqi visits Storm’s flat; Awlaqi impressed by Dane’s Shabaab contacts. Awlaqi and Warsame speak on Storm’s mobile
13) next meeting in Sep 2009 in al-Hawta (Shabwa); Awlaqi mentions plots in West; wants fridge to store explosives, and help finding wife
14) Late 2009: Storm helps US-led operation against Saleh Nabhan in Somalia. Storm stays in touch w Awlaqi by email in 2009-2010
15) late Nov 2009: random female Awlaqi fan from Croatia contacts Storm via FB fanpage. Storm vets her and puts her in touch wAA.
16) Storm meets “Aminah” in Vienna in March 2010; shows her video from AA and records one of her for AA; gives her CIA-bugged suitcase.
17) On 2 June 2010 Aminah flies to Yemen. On arrival, cautious AA aides discard her suitcase. Storm still gets $250k cash from CIA.
18) New plan in spring 2011: go to Yemen, send AA a tracked USB. In Sanaa, Storm connects wAA, shops ladies items for Aminah on his request.
19) early Sep 2011: AA courier picks up tracked USB from Storm. AA killed on 30 Sep. Storm, back in DK, expects recognition as key agent
20) Storm, outraged at lack of recognition and reward, plots revenge. He secretly records next CIA meeting, then contacts press. THE END
PS: E-book version of the Morten Storm biography (Danish only) available here: http://tiny.cc/2wfxqw Sorry for overposting – I’ll shut up now
I’d asked Hegghammer’s impression of the book’s (and Storm’s) credibility, while Aaron Zelin had commented on TH’s #7 above:
Right before the jailbreak in Feb ’06.
To which Hegghammer responded:
Exactly. It’s details like this (plus pics, receipts, recording etc) that makes it very credible
Will McCants has the last word…
also, his last name gives him superhero status
The brief account of Morton Storm at the top of this post is from Huffington Post. Name links are to twitter feeds, all are recommended. Hegghammer’s books are available on Amazon.