... Its (9/11) perpetrators were linked to the Brooklyn-based blind cleric, Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman, many experts have long suspected, was allowed to enter the United States by the Central Intelligence Agency in an effort to infiltrate Al-Qaeda — a high-stakes intelligence gamble that backfired spectacularly. Ever since news broke that Lashkar-e-Taiba clandestine operative David Headley had been a Drug Enforcement Administration informant, speculation has grown that the Pakistani-American jihadist may also have worked for the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The evidence for the claim is thin. Headley’s links with the Lashkar, Federal Bureau of Intelligence detectives say, was only detected in July, 2009, when he posted inflammatory messages in an internet chat-room. Even at the time of his arrest, they claim, no evidence was available to suggest he had carried out pre-attack reconnaissance in Mumbai. For its part, the CIA has flatly denied any association with Headley. But the Headley rumours offer an opportunity to examine the efforts of intelligence services around the world to infiltrate the global jihadist movement — and what sometimes happens when their assets turn out to have been double agents, singing the enemy’s song.
...The United Kingdom has never explained its failure to arrest Sheikh (Khalid Sheikh Mohammad) on his arrival in London. It was only in the wake of the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States that Sheikh was charged by the United Kingdom with kidnapping its nationals in New Delhi — a delay that his victims described as “a disgrace...London-based Islamist cleric Omar Mahmoud Othman, spiritual mentor to the Al-Qaeda in Europe, is also alleged to have been a double-agent working for the United Kingdom’s domestic covert service, MI5. Known by the alias Abu Qatada, Othman’s followers included the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, and Al-Qaeda operative Richard Reid, who attempted to blow up a Paris-Miami flight with explosives. Nineteen audio cassettes of Othaman’s sermons were found in (Mohamed) Atta’s apartments. For years before the Madrid attacks, MI5 resisted appeals from the European allies for Othman’s arrest. “Abu Qatada”, The Times later reported, “boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.” -- Praveen Swami