A Jordanian doctor-turned-suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan is proudly regarded by his family as a martyr in Islam's holy war against the United States, his wife said Thursday.
Covered in a black Islamic chador, Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, lauded her husband's Dec. 30 attack to Turkish journalists in Istanbul.
"I am proud of him, my husband has carried out a great operation in such a war. May God accept his martyrdom," Bayrak told the Dogan news agency.
She later told the state-run Anatolia news agency: "My husband did this against the U.S. invasion."
Bayrak met her husband while he was studying medicine in Istanbul. They got married there in 2001 and moved to Jordan when he graduated in 2002.
Bayrak, an Arabic-language translator for some pro-Islamic Turkish media outlets, said it was not surprising for her husband to join the jihad since he often wrote on jihad Web sites when they were living in Jordan.
Bayrak said al-Balawi left for Pakistan on March 18, 2009, saying he would become a surgical specialist. This point has been disputed by anti-terrorism experts in the Middle East, who say he went to Afghanistan instead.
She denied that her husband had been recruited to work for the CIA.
"He had so much hatred for the United States that he could not have been an agent for the CIA," she said. "He might have used Americans and Jordan for his own interest, which he did."
Jordanian intelligence officials believed the devout 32-year-old doctor had been persuaded to support U.S. efforts against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. They say al-Balawi was recruited to help capture or kill Ayman al-Zawahri, a doctor from Egypt who is Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, according to a counterterrorism official based in the Middle East.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on matters involving the CIA and Jordan's national security.
Bayrak said her husband was detained for three days by Jordanian intelligence in January.
"They were about 20 men from the Jordanian intelligence, they raided our home late at night on Jan. 19," she said Thursday. "They only searched our house randomly, they did not search it in detail. They took away my husband and seized his computer because my husband was writing on Jihad forums."
To his wife, he was an affectionate father of two young daughters, aged 5 and 7.
"He was fond of his family, relatives," she said. "He never used force against us... I love him."
Al-Balawi came from a nomadic Bedouin clan from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, which has branches in Jordan and the West Bank. He was born in Kuwait in 1977 to a middle-class family of nine other children, including an identical twin brother. He lived there until Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, when the family moved to Jordan. He graduated with honors from an Amman high school and studied medicine in Turkey.
Associated Press Writer Jamal Halaby contributed to this story from Zarqa, Jordan.