tv CNN Special Report CNN February 14, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
stay with cnn and cnn.com for the latest on the deadly terror attack in copenhagen. facebook our viewers in america, thank you for watching, paul crookshank is featured in the next program, "double agent: inside the al-qaeda cia." morten storm, for half a decade, he says he moved back and forth between two worlds and two identities when one misplaced sentence could have cost him his life. >> you don't know what angle he's playing. >> reporter: traveling teen atheism, hardline islam, english and arabic. >> one minute he's 007. on the other side he's now part of the militant circle. >> reporter: between being an
agent for western intelligence and a sworn member of al qaeda, storm says he was a double agent so trusted by al qaeda terror leaders he even fixed one up with a blond european wife. a unique powerful weapon on the war on terror who says he got results. >> i have been responsible of 30 kills. >> reporter: 30 terrorists killed. in a race against time, trying to bring down the most dangerous terrorists before they can launch their next attack. "double agent inside al qaeda for the cia." driving deep in yemen's lawless south, morten storm is at the wheel on a spy mission for the
cia. he's hoping this video may help lead his spy masters to the hideout of one of the world's most dangerous terrorists. >> they would follow the mobile phones, the satellites and they could see time that i was standing still, not moving around. >> reporter: the cia will get the video, storm says, only if he survives the mission. the stakes could not be higher. >> if there were leaks or word that i was a spy, there was no way i could get out of that place because i'm there by myself. i would get executed. >> reporter: how would they execute you? >> in the worst possible way, either slash your throat, behead you or shoot you, hang you up, crucify you. >> reporter: storm's target, one of the united states' most wanted al qaeda leaders. american-born cleric anwar al awlaki, now in yemen, bursting with hate for the u.s.
>> we're not against americans for just being american. we are against evil and america as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. al awlaki has many american followers and there's a great concern that he's inspiring, even helping them to plan and launch terror attacks inside the united states. >> we will fight back and incite others to do the same. >> reporter: it's late october, 2008. the cia is desperate to find al qaeda leaders like al awlaki. and that's exactly what the cia needs. >> i had these different names. i had different personalities. i was mort storm, murad storm,
abu osama, abu mujahid, polar bear, it's some kind of schizophrenic lifestyle. >> he's made surprising connections with leaders. according to counterterrorism expert magnus ranstorp. >> he had been to the many place, he had met all the right people. >> reporter: he's almost a forrest gump of radical islamism. >> i don't think there's many people like him that have all those different dimensions. he was the real deal. >> reporter: the real deal. a larger than life personality who reveals his journey in this book "agent storm: my life inside al qaeda and the cia" co-authored by paul cruickshank and tim lister, both cnn contributors. coming up, how storm goes from boxer to holy warrior.
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boy. loves laser tag. but behind the smile, there's trouble. >> i grew up with no dad. >> how did that affect you? >> it affected me emotionally. you feel frustrated and angry. >> seemingly hardworking, selling vegetables at market, age 13. but he's already committing armed robbery. armed robbery. >> armed robbery. >> what was going through your head? >> adrenaline. adrenaline. excitement. >> adrenaline and anger become morten storm's trademarks. by his early teens, he was a boxer. >> boxing for me was a way of getting out my aggressions. >> but your fighting just wasn't limited to the ring, though. >> it wasn't limited to the ring. >> najib khaba is a few years younger living in the same hood. >> first time i met him, he was kind of a crazy person. and he talked a lot. >> what was he talking about? >> fights.
brawls that he's been into. >> i would go to the clubs with immigrant good friends i had. they were hated because they looked different. and i felt the need to stand up for them. i would knock out big, adult -- you know, big-sized men with one punch. and i became feared. >> at age 19, he joined a banditos, the notorious biker gang. storm says he was their toughest enforcer, raw muscle. boxing, biking with the banditos, armed robbery, whatever storm is doing, he's always doing it to the max. his life is descending into criminality and chaos. storm craves sanity, stability. comes here, his local library. drawn to the tiny religion section. he sees a book, "the life of the prophet muhammad." it is the moment when his life
changes forever. he pulls the book from the shelf, finds somewhere to sit down, begins reading. six hours, hundreds of pages. within weeks, he is converting to islam. >> it changed me. it spoke to me. that book. this is the truth. the truth. i found the truth. >> he takes the name murad storm, travels to yemen, attends a seminary, learns arabic and a strict uncompromising interpretation of islam. >> i was taught everyone else is wrong. >> as simple as that, black and white. you have the truth, they're wrong? >> that's right. >> and those who are wrong, storm believes, are the enemy. all he can think about is training for jihad. storm is white and european.
traits that might help a terrorist living in the west avoid detection. he says he soon catches the eye of al qaeda's leader. >> i was invited by osama bin laden to join up with him in the training camps in afghanistan. >> storm won't make it to afghanistan, but he names his son osama in honor of bin laden. >> he was a person who dared to challenge the -- america. >> next time najib sees him in denmark, storm is a different man. >> the things that he was saying were so extreme that some of the imams, they couldn't cope with it, the stuff he was saying. so he was hanging out on the streets and preaching a lot. >> preaching what? >> he was preaching actually jihad. >> that's him, smiling, in 2005. part of a radical islamist demonstration and flag burning outside the american embassy in london.
storm is hungry for real action. for jihad. >> he's been in a very hard core environment. >> he sees his opportunity when najib khaja, now a journalist, says he wants to shoot a film about mujahadin in yemen. >> the access that he gave me in yemen was very unique. it was crazy, you know, some of the persons that he introduced me to. >> including the radical cleric anwar al awlaki. >> jihad against america is binding upon myself. >> they talk a lot about jihad, for example. and, again, storm was an extreme guy. storm was being talked down by anwar al awlaki. >> talked down from an extreme view? >> yes. awlaki was telling storm to chill out.
>> yet, storm won't be calmed. he decides to join jihadists in somalia. >> and i had to join that. i had to join a call to my religious belief. >> he returns to denmark where he says he gathers military supplies preparing himself for war. >> i said good-bye to my children, to my family. >> then at the last minute, a phone call from somalia. >> he said, we lost the airport. >> in mogadishu? >> in mogadishu. >> what does that mean? >> he said, you can't come, it's too dangerous for you. >> what's going through your mind them? >> obviously it's allah's will that i don't go. and i'm so deeply disappointed and devastated. i feel betrayed, you know? >> betrayed by his god, unable to fight for his religion, he says. just as fast as islam had taken hold, doubt and questions enter. >> i sat down in front of a laptop, and i'd type contradictions and why i'm
daring to ask this question. i hit enter, and i saw plenty of websites talking about contradictions in the koran. it took some time to research them, but once i concluded that they were genuinely contradictions, that's when i wiped totally away my faith. >> that's when you stopped being a muslim? >> that's when i stopped being a muslim in my heart, in my belief. >> years of radical brainwashing strip away in seconds, and storm makes a stunning decision to switch sides. >> i told them, guys, i'm no longer muslim. i want to fight the war on terror. >> the question now, would anyone believe him?
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morten storm has lost his faith in islam but not his desire to fight. now he wants to switch sides to work for the west as a double agent targeting his former friends, the radical islamists. he tells us he reaches out to danish intelligence agents. they meet immediately. the first order of business, room service. and storm orders what no devout muslim would eat or drink. >> i told him i want something with pork and bacon in it and i want a beer. >> beer and bacon for a muslim. >> he couldn't believe it. he really could not believe his own ears.
i told him, guys, i'm no longer muslim. i decided i want the fight the war on terror. when i told him i was on his side, he high-fived me. he said, this is going to be great. >> storm is a spy master's dream. >> here you have someone who has so many different personas, able to switch through the different personas in such rapid succession. >> and he appears to have connections at the top levels of al qaeda. >> there's no doubt that he was very well an agent and had access to some of the soldiers they really want to get access to. >> storm says danish intelligence wastes no time and sets him up as an operative, giving him a cell phone and about $2,000 a month. >> i said, yeah, that will pay my bills. i was happy about what i did. it wasn't for the money. >> according to storm, his early missions are successful. in lebanon, predicting a jihadi
uprising. in denmark, helping identify terror suspects. he quickly becomes a double agent in demand with other western agencies including the british. >> he was coming up with ideas for them, and he was -- in terms of being able to improvise, being able to stay in character, he was perfect. >> storm says he's now on the cia's radar. they meet inside the scandic hotel in copenhagen. so the british want to use morten storm, then the cia come on the scene. is this heard of before in the spy world like this? >> no, i think it's very unusual. for everyone to almost sort of feed off morten, i think that's quite unusual. >> storm says the cia and the british exploit his terrorist links, sending him on trips to kenya to meet african jihadists. this is one of the places they
used to meet, a nondescript mall in the heart of nairobi, in a hotel tucked way just inside right next door to kenya's largest mosque. storm explains he delivered a bugged blackberry, destined for an al qaeda operative wanted for his suspected role in the 1998 u.s. embassy bombings that killed 224 people. three months later, that terrorist was dead. storm says because of him. but his most important mission is yet to come in yemen. >> there was just the time when anwar awlaki became an interesting person for them. >> for the cia? >> for the cia. >> anwar awlaki, american educated cleric, al qaeda leader. storm called him a personal friend from his days as a jihadist. awlaki has been inspiring
terrorist attacks around the world. the 2005 suicide bombings on london trains and a double decker bus leaving 52 dead. two foiled 2006 plots. >> threat level to the uk has been raised to critical. >> one to blow up planes flying to the united states, the other to blow up buildings in canada. and in 2008, a deadly attack on the u.s. embassy in yemen. and storm says he can provide the cia something no one else can. access to awlaki himself. he tells us the cia sent him on this dangerous spy mission october 2008, a month after the embassy attack. to see awlaki, now hiding in a remote part of yemen. >> he's worried about security, but he's also worried about
people following me. >> the mission, give awlaki a laptop, solar panels, night vision goggles he'd requested. some secretly implanted with spy software. then storm says he gives awlaki one more cia gift. $5,000 cash. >> he looked at me, and he tapped his chest pocket where the $5,000 were, and he said, can we buy bullets and weapons? i said, yeah, of course you can. my handler, cia handler in denmark, he said, you know what, you've just been tested and you just passed it. because if i said no, he knew, anwar, that this money was from intelligence. and he knew they were not allowed to sponsor or to pay for weapons and bullets. >> storm is loving his 007 life, but as he drives away from this meeting with awlaki, he is worried. >> the tables have turned.
>> awlaki has grown more violent, and the world should be afraid. >> anwar was wearing a green military camouflage jacket, bin laden style, over his robe. he had a ceremonial dagger and revolver he's built. i tried not to look surprised. the preacher had become a fighter. >> he stays in touch with the radical cleric. they share an e-mail account. messages written, saved as draft, read but never sent. avoiding, awlaki wrongly believes, spy agencies reading them. storm says the next visit awlaki is even more paranoid and tells him to tighten security. >> when i met anwar back in 2009, he instructed me to use encrypted message system called mujahadin secrets.
it was invented to create a secure online communication between terrorists or al qaeda members all over the world. >> the message can be unscrambled and read only by the person to whom the sender has given a code to unlock it. jihadi spy craft, soon to be vital in storm's most important mission yet. awlaki is fast rising up the cia's most wanted list, and storm believes he has the perfect plan to trap him. >> brother, this is me without the head scarf. >> using a european blond as bait. >> i hope you will be pleased with it. god willing. ♪
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this situation of many muslims around the world -- >> this is the voice of american-born cleric, anwar awlaki in audio obtained exclusively by cnn. >> the majority of the people around us are disbelievers. >> he's talking to wealthy muslim donors, hoping they will give money to support al qaeda, but this skype call is much more than what it seems. this is spy craft in action. morten storm says he's arranged this call to demonstrate allegiance to awlaki and the militants.
what awlaki doesn't know is that storm is a double agent works for the other side, for danish, british and american spies. >> you should support the islamic causes whether we're talking about somalia or afghanistan or iraq or chechnya. >> it's clear to the west that awlaki is a growing danger, infecting the minds of muslims everywhere. just months after the skype call, united states army major nidal hasan goes on a shooting rampage at his base in ft. hood, texas. hasan kills 13 fellow soldiers and calls awlaki his inspiration. they'd exchanged e-mails. the cleric turned terror leader takes credit. his website reads, "nidal hasan is a hero." >> we all knew that he had to be killed.
>> that was clearly stated. >> just one month later -- >> breaking news. >> awlaki sends the so-called underpants bomber to blow up northwest flight 253 as it lands in detroit christmas day 2009. >> a passenger tried to detonate some kind of explosive. >> the plot is foiled, but cia agents now know there is no time to lose. anwar awlaki is waging a relentless bloody war against americans, more than ever, storm says, the cia is realizing they need him. >> america as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. >> awlaki must be eliminated. but storm says his officers from british, danish, intelligence agencies disagree about how to take out awlaki. controlling the plan means controlling storm. in a bizarre courtship, the spy
agencies lavish attention on storm trying to win his loyalty. first up, the danish. wooing storm on behalf of the cia. >> we went to iceland, up to the blue lagoon, and we spend some time up there. >> you were kind of chilling out quite literally up there, right? >> yeah, we were. yeah. >> danish agents break all the rules, taking happy snaps with him. not to be outdone, the british take storm to sweden. >> they booked a four days team building trip at the ice hotel. we had a four-day team building. we went dog sledding. we went snowscootering. i stayed in a very expensive room inside the ice hotel. >> storm says he ultimately chooses to work with the cia, which supports his plan to
locate and assassinate awlaki by using an unsuspecting woman as bait. unbelievably, awlaki has asked storm to play matchmaker and find him a european blond to be his third wife. storm's search leads him to irina from croatia, a recent convert to islam who now calls herself aminah. they chat on facebook. >> european blond, exactly what anwar wanted, and she asked me if i knew anwar awlaki and if i could help her to get married. >> awlaki's mujahadin secrets show storm he's hooked. so far i'm interested. please update me on the sister situation. if you could try to speed up her travel into yemen. through storm, awlaki and aminah exchange encrypted e-mails.
it's a match. they agree to marry. they will come through austria for a rendezvous with aminah. they will meet at the bus station. it's storm's most important spy mission so far. he can't afford any mistakes. but almost immediately, he's disobeying the cia. according to storm, the american agents have a very specific plan. walk past this bakery. take aminah to a specific cafe that they have under surveillance. they want the first meeting with aminah here in this cafe. realizing it is selling beer, no place for devout muslim, storm, without checking with his handlers, changes the plan. he brings aminah to a nearby mcdonald's. shows her awlaki's notes on his computer. but the cia agents are angry.
storm says they think he has gone rogue. >> again, i improvised for myself. i took control. >> aren't they supposed to be running you rather than you running them? >> in the ideal world, probably, yes. >> bottom line, the cia can't be picky. to locate and eliminate awlaki, they need storm, and they are willing to pay. if his plan works. you get a quarter of a million dollars from the cia when aminah crosses into yemen? >> that's correct. >> after seven weeks, storm sent back to vienna for another meeting with aminah. the next step in the match making. he shows her this video from awlaki. >> this recording is done specifically for sister aminah. the brother who's carrying this recording is a trustworthy brother. >> what's her reaction when she's watching that video? >> she's full of joy and tears. you do really know him, she
says. you do really know him. >> i hope you are well. >> then storm has her record a video for awlaki in return. >> my brother, it's me, aminah, and i just want to tell you that right now i feel nervous and this is very awkward for me. >> awlaki wants a blond european wife. the plan has to work. storm convinces her to break muslim taboo and take off her head scarf. >> brother, this is my without the head scarf so you can see my hair. i hope you will be pleased with it. >> coming up -- >> james bond. 007. clink, clink, clink. and you know, it just opened up. >> agent storm's biggest payday yet, but all does not go as planned. >> the americans refused to speak to me for six months.
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aminah, the cute young european, is getting ready to go to yemen to marry one of the world's most wanted terrorists. >> what is better for you regarding this proposal. >> the sexy blond is bait. an unsuspecting sacrificial lamb in a plot to kill a lustful al qaeda leader who's inspired terror attacks in america. morten storm says it is his plan
backed by the cia. >> it's unbelievable that he has been able to be so trusted by one of the world's most hunted terrorist leaders, that he would even become a matchmaker. >> if all goes as planned, the unwitting bride-to-be will travel with a suitcase that has a hidden tracking device. storm scrawls mission notes finalizing plans getting her to yemen. meet mcdonald's 10:00 al. she needs a cover story to get a visa at the embassy. buy the plane ticket and secret e-mail accounts to keep in touch. $3,000 cash sanctioned by the cia. if she gets to yemen, the cia promises storm $250,000. he knows it could cost the blond her life. how do you reconcile that?
>> she's an innocent. well, she wasn't according to my judgment of her. she was a ticking time bomb rung around europe. and she was already convinced about what she wanted to do. and if we can use her to get close to anwar awlaki and to hit him, well, that's the way it goes. >> awlaki's encrypted e-mail to storm dictates she bring one carry-on bag, one medium suitcase. storm says he picks a gray samsonite, passes the measurements to the cia, which hides the tracking device in the handle. as she arrives at the vienna airport for her flight, the attractive blond has no idea what she is carrying. aminah is getting on her plane for yemen. storm is hundreds of miles away in denmark. the honey trap plot with the blond is finally in play.
if the plan works, they will find one of the world's most wanted terrorists. storm tells us inside this seaside villa with his danish and cia handlers, it's serious. eyes on laptops and blackberries. they are tracking every step of aminah's travel to yemen. the atmosphere is electric, but hanging over the operation questions. what happens if the european blond dies? collateral damage. aminah makes it to yemen. storm recalls receiving a text message from one of his danish handlers. >> saying, congratulations, brother. you just became rich, very rich. >> soon, he is in yet another meeting with intelligence agents. one from the cia is anxious for storm to open the briefcase they
brought with them. >> and he looked at me with a massive smile on his face. what do you think the code is? i think -- i have no clue. i didn't even think that there was three numbers on each, you know, side. come on, come on, he said. come on, think about it. i said, i don't know. i have no clue. he said, try 007. he told me like this. >> james bond. >> james bond. 007, he told me. and i did. clink, clink, clink, and you know, it just -- it opened up. >> so happy with the cash, he took this photo of the $250,000 inside. then this. an encrypted message from awlaki. an update. it's about aminah. we got married. awlaki ironically adding, she turned out better than i expected and better than you described. >> she was a very pretty girl. >> and he was happy.
>> he was extremely happy. yeah. >> but there's also an e-mail from aminah, a bombshell. security conscious awlaki told aminah to dump the suitcase before they meet. leaving behind it and the tracking device. cnn contacted aminah's family who declined to comment. storm says the cia is furious his plan failed. >> the americans refused to speak to me for six months. >> no u.s. official here in denmark or anywhere else has ever acknowledged storm's claims of a role with the cia. the cia, itself, declined our request for a comment. the cia keeps storm sidelined even as awlaki's killer crusade continues. sophisticated printer bombs like this.
on cargo planes headed to the usa. luckily, they're intercepted before they explode. storm says he gets a text message from the cia which says, they've lost all track of awlaki. they are desperate and want storm's help again. >> one of my handlers, he told me that there will be a bounty for this one, and i would get rewarded with $5 million. >> $5 million? >> yes. you would get paid $5 million for this. >> next, awlaki eliminated. >> the man known as one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world has been killed. >> and storm in the cross-hairs of jihadists.
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mortem storm says he's tried but failed before to help locate the radical cleric. now he tells of a new plan, one in which an unsuspecting yemen courier is handed storm's thumb drive, an exchange that's under surveillance according to storm. >> i informed the americans who then sent people over there to watch it. >> what happens next is unclear. then three weeks later -- >> we begin with the biggest blow to al qaeda since the killing of osama bin laden. >> one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world. >> al awlaki is dead. >> it could mean a $5 million cia bounty for storm. soon he says he receives a text message. it's from a danish agent saying code name clang, saying, i'm so
sorry, but it wasn't us. the cia says the death is not storm's work. >> i thought it wasn't meant to happen. clang is is saying, i'm so sorry about it. just tell the americans, tell big brother congratulations. >> two days later he learns more when he picks up a copy of the british newspaper "the telegraph." sprawled across the front page, how america finally caught up with anwar al awlaki. the capture of a low-elf errand runner was the key that led to the al qaeda leader's death. >> i froze when i read it. i was like, i had that ice in my stomach. i said that's my mission. the dates, the time period that he was arrested. young courier matches the young courier that i met. >> storm believes he was key in
leading the cia to all-aky. he feels cheated and he lets intelligence agencies know he is furious. according to storm, they set up a meeting at the hotel in denmark. inside the lobby storm says he starts secretly recording as danish agents approach. >> i put my iphone in my pocket and i recorded the conversation. >> then inside a private room, storm says he continues recording as he comes face to face with a man he says is cia agent michael. >> either you trust us or you don't. in this case, i guess you don't. >> we had our team. we had our project going forward, of which you played the highest role. okay? the president of the united states, he knows about your work. >> the cia's attempt to placate
storm fails. tempers are rising. >> i'm not sure why you think we would [ bleep ] you over. why would you think that? >> first of all, it's about honor as well. >> so now we don't have any honor? >> no, no, no, you asked me. i'm going to answer. >> i went to yemen again. i established the contact with anwar. and i was the only one, anwar, he trusted to deliver or give him anything. i even sent anwar a wife. >> cnn has not authenticated the recordings. the meeting ends when michael leaves without saying goodbye. storm believes his spying career is over. >> that must have been an incredibly hard moment. >> yes, it was hard because i like these people quite a lot.
well, i did. >> three years later this is still hard. >> it's very hard. >> the blowup here is a turning point. trust between mortem and the cia, if it ever existed, will never be the same again. the very next day a defiant mortem storm pulls into this roadway rest stop near copenhagen. he's bitter and has arranged to meet a newspaper reporter at sunset. >> he said we'll take a mobile phone and put it in your car. >> storm doesn't want to be recorded. he's still thinking like a spy, yet he's about to blow his cover.
>> i showed him my passports. he looked at them. i told him this is what happened. >> storm wants him to tell the world that the cia is double-crossing him. >> he was angry and he was upset and maybe he also was a little nervous because it was the very first time that he'd tell anybody he's been living a double life. >> he warns storm that going public has consequences. >> i tell him it can be dangerous for him and it will change his life for good. the last thing i say to him is go home, think about this. >> he does, and decides he's not ready to reveal his spy story to the world. soon he gets this e-mail from al awlaki's blond bride turned widow. she writes, i want to do a
martyrdom operation, and join her husband in paradise. she asks if storm can check on -- can check, am i on the cia wanted list and no-fly list? a counterterrorism official has told cnn that a threat bulletin was issued warning that she could be dangerous. many months later storm contacts the reporter again. this time they jump on the story and it becomes a sensation in denmark. storm becomes a marked man. jihadists in syria release this video. faces of the enemies lined up on a wall including a photo of mortem storm. >> going public i knew that groups and those jihadists would like too -- to see me dead.
>> the american british and danish spy agencies all decline cnn's request for comment on mortem storm. to date storm's story and his value to those agencies has never been publicly contradicted. >> my agenda was to save people's life. and now i've done so. so i was a bad spy able of creating good results. >> multiple identities, shifting loyalties, a life of extremes. from radical islam to top level secret agent. now mortem storm has emerged from the shadows taking his chances in the spotlight. left with what he says a few allies, but plenty of deadly enemies.