Small Wars Journal

Family Divisions Over Suicide Bombing Targeting CIA

Mon, 01/30/2012 - 8:34pm


From the Washington Post:

A Jordanian double agent’s suicide bombing of the CIA base in eastern Afghanistan received days of media coverage. The CIA had been tricked into welcoming one of al-Qaeda’s own onto the agency’s base, enabling him to detonate a vest laden with explosives.

In October 2010, the CIA released results of the agency’s internal investigation into the Khost province attack, fueling another round of stories that Jennifer Matthews, a CIA operative, was partially responsible. Matthews and her team, the report concluded, failed to follow the agency’s procedures for vetting informants. 

One of Matthews’s severest critics was her uncle, Dave Matthews, a retired CIA official who had helped inspire his niece to join the agency. Now Gary Anderson, Matthews's husband, and other relatives who once agreed not to speak with the media are breaking their silence to talk about Matthews’s life and death and about how her promotion to a perilous CIA posting has divided them.



Tue, 01/31/2012 - 9:24am

In reply to by Rick

The article references a GQ article by Robert Baer. The point of Mr. Baer's article is that the CIA has intentionally been de-emphasizing the importance of operational knowledge, experience and proficiency over the last 15 or more years. Ms. Matthews was a reports (desk) officer her whole career prior to going to Afghanistan and she had zero experience in the area. That would lend support to Mr. Baer's argument.

It struck me that the CIA was not only willing to send somebody with such little experience to an important post but was only going to send her for a one year tour. Just one year. How one earth did the CIA figure that heads of station staying the spot for such a short time would have any chance at all against people who live there? Taliban & the ISI must think we are a bunch of clowns.

Agency trade craft and counter-intelligence aside. . .but never for very long. . .overlooked was that Jordan also acknowledged one of its military officer's, Captain Ali bin Zayd, was killed in Afghanistan during the same time frame as the incident at the Agency compound in Khost province.

I find this interesting and perhaps telling, in that it may be quite likely that bin Zayd may have been handling the Jordanian Al-Qa’idah double agent, who it would seem also fooled Jordan as well, and in her haste to meet with a possibly important Jordanian source, and disregard protocols for such a meeting, Jennifer Matthews may have been lulled into a false sense of security because the source was being brought to her by bin Zayd, a probable Jordanian intelligence operative, working with the CIA.

Regardless, in the end Mathew's does share blame, but there is plenty of blame to go-around it would seem, since last December our Agency's foreign agents, and with them possibly our networks, were rolled-up in Iran and Lebanon, due in great part to poor trade craft and counter-intelligence.

Of course, some will say (and have said) these things happen, but nothing just happens. In my opinion, the CIA in the last decade (and a bit before) has gotten away from the basics in training-up field operatives, and that was not Jennifer Matthews' fault; it was her Company's fault. . .And if a student fails to learn, it can often point to the issue that the teacher failed to teach.

Toujours Fidele