Al-Qaida is praising the suicide bombing that killed seven U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan, and says it carried out the attack to avenge the deaths of militant leaders.
The claim was made by al-Qaida senior leader Sheikh Mustafa Abu al-Yazid in a posting on the Internet late Wednesday.
He said the attack on a base in Khost province December 30 was retribution for the deaths of Abu Saleh al-Somali, Baitullah Mehsud and a third man, Abdullah Saeed al-Liby.
U.S. intelligence officials say al-Somali was a senior al-Qaida planner. Mehsud was the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban. Both were killed in U.S. missile strikes in northwest Pakistan last year.
Previously, both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Intelligence officials say the bomber, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was a Jordanian informant working as an al-Qaida double agent.
A published report in the United States Wednesday said intelligence officials believed al-Balawi was the “most promising informant in years” about the location of al-Qaida’s top leaders.
The New York Times, quoting anonymous senior U.S. intelligence officials, says CIA agents were so hopeful about the informant’s ability to penetrate al-Qaida’s inner circle that they told top U.S. officials in advance about the December 30 face-to-face meeting at which the suicide blast occurred.
Intelligence officials quoted by The Times say that for several months, he gave his Jordanian supervisor verifiable information about lower-ranking al-Qaida members.
But the officials say last week’s meeting at the remote U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province, near the Pakistani border, was the first time the informant met in-person with CIA officers.
‘Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.’