Check out Stout’s Interview with an al Qaeda Insider, Morten Storm

Recently someone pointed me to an interview by Mark Stout at the Spy Museum with Morten Storm, the agent that infiltrated al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Based on his account of events, he gained the confidence of Anwar al-Awlaki. Readers of this blog may remember my references to Morten Storm in the context of the justification for targeting Awlaki. Previously,  I had read some summaries of the Storm coverage and it didn’t always make sense.  However, Mark Stout does a masterful job interviewing Storm and in less than an hour the Morten Storm saga is explained – and its well worth a listen.

Here is a quick summary of some of the interview but definitely check it out for yourself.

  • The beginning of the interview discusses Storm’s radicalization.  While its bizarre that he went from being in a motorcycle gang to being a jihadist adherent in only months, this is a similar pattern for converts to Islam that end up attracted to al Qaeda. Western recruits travel bizarre paths into al Qaeda’s arms.  My general rule for Western al Qaeda members, the whiter the al Qaeda recruit, the weirder the story – Gadahn, Lewthwaite, John Walker Lindh – its never what you expect.  Looking at Morten Storm, I’d swear he was in the crowd at the Packers-Lions game on Thanksgiving.
  • Al Qaeda wants Western recruits so badly that they routinely seem to open themselves up to problems.  I imagine in Storm they saw an ideal candidate for delivering attacks in the West.  For Omar Hammami, they enjoyed his propaganda and the fact he was an American.  But in both recent cases. the Westerner recruits have created a series of problems for al Qaeda.  I bet Adam Gadahn is a real pain in the ass in Pakistan as well.
  • I learned in this interview that Storm seems to be more of an asset for infiltrating al Qaeda operations in Somalia. Morten Storm Storm talks about helping facilitate fighters from Europe and purchasing/providing gear, setting up a business in the Horn of Africa.  In particular, Storm discusses the connections between AQAP and al Qaeda operations in Somalia.  Storm mentions Warsame and American Jehad Mostafa as being connections between the two al Qaeda affiliates. Take a listen around the 30 minute mark.  Storm provides some fascinating linkages that have been long sought in open source.
  • Lastly, I had gotten the impression from new stories that Storm had been betrayed by the CIA or had a falling out with the U.S.  According to this interview, I get a very different impression.  It seems his disagreements and betrayal rest more with the Danish government rather than the U.S. – but I guess that story doesn’t sell as well in mainstream press.
  • Hats off to Mark Stout for a great podcast.  He gets Storm’s entire story out in a concise fashion.  Take a listen.

6 comments

  1. Fascinating interview. Stout does a great job of consistently getting quality guests and talks about aspects of intelligence that we don’t often see in open source.

    I did want to throttle that damn bird in the background, though. :)

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Doing those interviews was one of the best parts of my previous job at the International Spy Museum. I have started a new podcast series, now that I head the MA in Global Security Studies program at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. However, it is on a much broader range of security-related subjects. You can find it here. http://advanced.jhu.edu/blog/category/podcasts/

    On Morten Storm, he will have a book coming out next year in the US. After that comes out, his publicists will allow him to talk with scholars again. I’m still in touch with him and I’d be happy to make introductions for serious researchers when the time comes.

  3. Thanks for the update and for doing the interview. It was great. And I’ll start listening to the new podcast location and will post links from here.
    Also, glad to hear that Morten Storm’s book will be coming out in english. I’d definitely like to read but my Danish isn’t particularly strong (as in non-existent).

  4. The potential danger of such an infiltration was seen today in the following headline in The Daily Mail, although citing a CNN interview with Morten Storm: ‘Was Kenya mall massacre ‘mastermind’ backed by CIA cash? Disturbing claims by ‘double agent who worked with terror suspect for years’

    Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2487246/Was-Kenya-mall-massacre-mastermind-backed-CIA-cash-Disturbing-claims-double-agent-worked-terror-suspect-years.html#ixzz2nME8w2l5

  5. I smell a rat.
    He “knew” the shoe bomber Richard Reed eh.
    Did he also know the Western agent who got Reed onto the flight with no passport?
    And erased the footage from the airport CCTV?!!!
    All of these top jyhadis are CIA operatives to create this false War on Terror.

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