September 09, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC, September 9, 2014 – Today, the International Spy Museum opened a new mini-exhibit detailing the high-risk espionage exploits of Morten Storm, the radical jihadist turned double agent for the CIA, as well as for the British and Danish intelligence services. Storm, a Danish Muslim convert, ultimately infiltrated al Qaeda and used his insider knowledge to combat terrorism.
The mini-exhibit, titled Agent Storm: A Life Inside Al Qaeda and the CIA, provides a glimpse into the life of Morten Storm, a rebellious youth without direction who found an identity and sense of belonging in Islam; radical teachers then paved his path to extremism.
“This is an incredibly topical exhibit given recent events involving young westernized men who are embracing a radical and violent form of Islam and then travelling to the Middle East to fight,” said Dr. Vince Houghton, historian and curator for the International Spy Museum. “It allows the audience to raise questions and draw their own conclusions about the counterterrorism efforts of allied intelligence agencies.”
Storm’s conversion to Islam occurred at the age of 21. He moved to Yemen in the late 1990s, learned Arabic, and adopted the Muslim name Murad. As he started a new life, he immersed himself in radical Islam with the intention of becoming a jihadist warrior. However, doubts about his faith and his mission led him to break with Islam and contact Danish intelligence to offer assistance in the fight against the extremists with whom he once consorted. One of these friends and allies was Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric considered one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. Storm’s new mission: find Awlaki and help bring him down.
The gripping story has been covered extensively in Storm’s new book Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda and the CIA, co-authored by CNN journalists Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, both of whom are experts in counterterrorism and the Middle East.
“There is a remarkable amount of information corroborating this story,” said Cruickshank, during an exclusive event at the Museum Monday evening to discuss the book and provide an advance preview of the new mini-exhibit. “It is because of the audio recordings, the bank statements, the digital evidence that string [Morten’s mission] together that we’re able to tell this story with such confidence.”
Within the mini-exhibit are personal artifacts from Storm that were used in his mission as a double agent, including passports and identification documents, disposable “burner” cell phones, and a series of mission notes from his clandestine operations.
“When I first met with my handlers, they portrayed some of the spycraft on display at the International Spy Museum,” said Storm, who joined the conversation by way of a video conferencing system from an undisclosed location. “They tried to flatter me, the target, to entice me to cooperate with them. They asked me if they could get me anything, and I told them, ‘I am not Muslim anymore. I want bacon, and I want a beer, and I want to help you fight these terrorists.’”
Awlaki had gone into hiding in Yemen and it was Storm’s task to locate him. Storm communicated with Awlaki via a courier system, and shared the intricacies of the system with the CIA, and British and Danish intelligence. In September 2011, the CIA tracked a courier to Awlaki’s location and carried out a drone strike that killed him. Storm claims it was his intelligence that led the CIA to Awlaki. However, the CIA does not acknowledge Storm’s purported involvement in the operation.
Storm says his double life as a spy took both a mental and emotional toll on him. “I no longer knew who was my enemy and who was my friend,” he admits. “But now I am in a position to enrich an audience about the lives of radical Islamists and about my necessary betrayal to become a spy.”
The mini-exhibit will remain on public display in the Museum’s lobby until March 2015.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM
The International Spy Museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage and intelligence. Open since July 2002, the Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. The mission of the International Spy Museum is to educate the public about espionage and intelligence in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of their important role in and impact on current and historic events. The Museum's permanent collection chronicles the history of espionage, from its inception, to the modern day challenges facing intelligence professionals worldwide in the 21st Century and the looming threat of Cyber War in Weapons of Mass Disruption. For more information, please visit www.spymuseum.org.Download PDF