ANKARA (Reuters) - The wife of a double agent who killed seven CIA officers in a suicide attack in Afghanistan said she thought her husband was in Afghanistan to pursue his medical studies and that she was shocked at news of his death.
Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, told Turkish media she learned that her husband had blown himself up at a U.S. base in Afghanistan on Dec. 30 after receiving a phone call from one of his friends in Pakistan.
Bayrak, who lives in Istanbul, said her husband had told her 10 days ago that he planned to return to Turkey. She doubted he was working for the CIA or that he was a member of al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda's Afghan wing has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing -- the second-most deadly attack in CIA history -- saying it was revenge for the deaths of their leaders.
"He's a very strong character. If he did it, he must have done it on his own will. Nobody can make him do things," Bayrak, a journalist who has written books including one entitled "Osama bin Laden: Che Guevara of the East", told Sabah daily.
"One of his friends in Pakistan called and informed me about the bombing incident. I don't believe he is linked to CIA and al Qaeda. Why would he attack CIA if he was working for them?"
Former intelligence officials have said Balawi, a doctor, was recruited by Jordanian intelligence to try to infiltrate al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Balawi had associated with Islamists in the past, but U.S. and Jordanian spy agencies thought that Balawi had been successfully "de-radicalised".
Bayrak said she met her husband, a Jordanian, while he was studying medicine at Istanbul University. They lived in Jordan, where they had two daughters, before moving back to Turkey in October 2009.
"We had a happy marriage," she told Aksam daily.
"My husband went to Afghanistan to register for a university in order to receive specialty education in medicine. He would come back when his work there was finished. I saw him in March for the last time, and we spoke on the phone 10 days ago. He told me he had changed his mind and would come back to Turkey for his studies. I am very sorry."
Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia