The CIA paid an al Qaeda spy $250,000 to help find a bride for American-born terrorist Anwar al Awlaki in a plot to locate and kill him, according to a report in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
The CIA declined to comment when asked about the published account. But if true, it provides a revealing look at the lengths to which the CIA went to find and eliminate al Awlaki, who was among the most wanted terrorists in the world after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Al Awlaki was linked by US authorities to a number of terror plots, including the failed effort by the underwear bomber to blow up a US jetliner over Detroit and the attack at Fort Hood in which 13 people died and dozens were injured.
In the case of the terrorist bride, the purported CIA double agent, Morten Storm, a Danish convert to Islam, provided the newspaper with "proposal" videos and e-mail texts he says al Awlaki exchanged with the woman, a 32-year old Croatian named Aminah who said she was an admirer of al Awlaki.
"I am 32 years old and am ready for dangerous things," she wrote, according to texts posted by the paper. "I am ready to die for the sake of Allah." The report says the plot failed when the woman reached Yemen but was told by al Awlaki's aides to abandon her suitcase which had been bugged with tracking devices by the CIA without her knowledge.
Storm told the newspaper, "both of them would be killed in an American drone strike" if the CIA plan had succeeded. Al Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone strike in September, 2011. The CIA also declined to comment last week when the claims by the purported Danish spy first surfaced in the Danish newspaper.
The account of his alleged role with the CIA and recruitment by Danish intelligence touched off a public firestorm in Denmark over the involvement of the Danish service in the attack that killed al Awlaki. Danish authorities denied any involvement in the attack and said its efforts were aimed only at protecting Denmark from possible al Qaeda attacks.
In this latest report, Storm says he was asked by al Awlaki in 2009 to help him find a European Muslim to be his third wife. In 2010, he said, he found Aminah through a Facebook page that had been set up for sympathizers of al Awlaki and proceeded to play the role of matchmaker with the CIA's money and resources.
In her "proposal" video posted on-line by Jyllands-Posten, Aminah, a resident of Zagreb, says, "I feel nervous, this is very awkward for me. I just taped this so you can see how I look."
In his tape, al Awlaki says he is sending a video message "specifically for sister Aminah." In an apparent reference to Storm, the alleged CIA spy, al Awlaki says, "The brother who is carrying this video is a trustworthy brother."
Storm says al Awlaki wrote his prospective Facebook bride to accept her proposal for marriage, "If you can live in difficult conditions, don't mind loneliness, and can live with restrictions on your communications with others, that is great."
Storm also provided the newspaper with a still photograph of a suitcase packed with $100 U.S. bills that he says was his quarter-million dollar payment from the CIA. Storm says even though the CIA plot failed, the marriage was a success.
Following al Awlaki's killing last year, Storm says the young woman wrote him to say she wanted to go on a suicide mission to avenge her husband's death but that al Qaeda leaders had decided against it. The report says she now works with the al Qaeda on-line magazine "Inspire," which frequently featured the musings of her late husband, al Awlaki.