VIDEO: Sneak Peek - Spy Morten Storm Appears in First TV Interview on 60 MINUTES
The CIA was able to target one of the world's most wanted terrorists because of information provided by a Danish spy who had gotten so close to the U.S. enemy that he was asked to procure him a third wife, says former spy Morten Storm about the controversial drone-strike in Yemen last year that killed the American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al Awlaki. Storm tells his story to Lara Logan in his first U.S. television interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES on Sunday, Dec. 30 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network. Get a sneak peek below!
There were few terrorists the CIA wanted to catch more than Awlaki, who preached jihad against the U.S. in English over the Internet. Awlaki plotted with "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulutallab and influenced U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, charged with killing 13 at Ft. Hood, Texas, in a terrorist attack. Storm has come forward because he says the CIA will not give him credit or pay him a reward for his role in Awlaki's death. But Storm is convinced his mission on behalf of Danish intelligence and the CIA to make contact with Awlaki after the terrorist had disappeared in the Yemeni desert, was the conduit for the missile that killed him.
"No. There is no doubt [my efforts led to his death]," he tells Logan. "It was a lot of joyment [sic], I say, because it's good he died anyway. It is good."
Awlaki had become the head of Al-Qaeda in Yemen and was planning more attacks. "At that moment, Anwar needed to die by any means. He needed to be stopped," says Storm, a former criminal who converted to Islam in a Danish prison in the 1990s.
Storm's conversion led to his journey to Yemen, where he learned Arabic, became radicalized, married, and had children, naming one of them for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. He says he met Awlaki in 2006. "I liked him because of his views of jihad, because that was my view as well."
Sometime after, he says he had an epiphany. "I typed on my keyboard on my laptop, 'Contradictions in the Koran.' ...what I believed in for those 10 years suddenly was just ripped away from me. I discovered that it was all fake," says Storm. Pressed by Logan for an explanation for such a sudden change, he replies, "That can actually happen... it was an emotional rollercoaster."
He says he then went to Danish intelligence, who had been tracking him for years, and called for a meeting at which he told them, "I am no longer Muslim, and I want to fight these terrorists."
He returned to Yemen as a double agent and says he managed to get into Awlaki's inner circle, learning the cleric's deepest secrets, including encryption codes for his communications network. He became so close, that Awlaki asked him to find him a Western wife, says Storm, who found a willing Croatian woman named Irena Horak by going on Facebook.
Storm says his Danish and CIA handlers tried to use the delivery of Horak, who called herself "Sister Aminah," as a way to get to Awlaki, but despite their attempts to track them, she and Awlaki disappeared in Yemen. Storm was paid $250,000 for his efforts.
Then, after his handlers could not locate him, Storm says he was able to find Awlaki and when he did, the sheik asked him to procure supplies for him, including bomb-making materials. He says he eventually arranged with Awlaki for a courier to pick up the materials.
Storm says he told his handlers about the transaction and didn't think any more about it until he read in the newspaper that a U.S. missile had killed his former friend. The story quoted U.S. intelligence saying a young courier led them to the terrorist mastermind. "That was my mission," he tells Logan.
Storm supplied a tape he says he made of a meeting with a CIA official afterwards, on which he is heard saying, "The Americans have failed in every single attempt to arrest or kill Anwar al Awlaki except when we went in. We just want gratitude from your government." An American voice on the tape is heard assuring Storm that the U.S. government, including President Obama, is grateful for his work, and that Storm Played "the highest role" in a team effort to eliminate Awlaki.
Neither the CIA nor Danish intelligence would comment for this story.