cover image The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA

The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA

Joby Warrick. Doubleday, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-53418-5

Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize%E2%80%93winning journalist for the Washington Post, untangles the knotty story of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, the Jordanian al-Qaeda double agent responsible for the 2009 suicide bombing of a facility in Khost, Afghanistan, in this accessible and fast-paced debut. A rising star in American espionage, al-Balawi had seemed to insinuate himself into the highest levels of al-Qaeda with remarkable swiftness and ease and had committed to assassinating Osama Bin Laden's deputy. Instead, his real mission was accomplished when he detonated a bomb strapped to his chest, killing seven CIA operatives, the agency's greatest loss of life in decades. Warrick builds a case for the military and institutional miscommunications that failed to sniff out al-Balawi's deceptions with meticulous detail and the atmosphere of a political thriller. While he introduces a who's who of terrorist figures and organizations and ably conveys the high-pressure world of international espionage in the bureaucracy of the CIA, he also gives the story a cinematic feel with suspenseful foreshadowing, rich character development%E2%80%94especially of the murdered agents and their families%E2%80%94and a remarkable amount of heart. (Aug.)