Nine Lives: My Time as MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda
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Nine Lives: My Time as MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda
11th September 2018 @ 6:15 pm - 7:15 pmFree
As one of al-Qaeda’s most respected bomb-makers, Aimen Dean rubbed shoulders with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden himself.
As a double agent at the heart of al-Qaeda’s chemical weapons programme, he foiled attacks on civilians and saved countless lives, brushing with death so often that his handlers began to call him their spy with nine lives. This is the story of how a young Muslim, determined to defend his faith, found himself fighting on the wrong side – and his fateful decision to work undercover for his sworn enemy.
By kind invitation of David T C Davies MP, the Henry Jackson Society is proud to invite you to an event with former double agent Aimen Dean as he presents what life is like inside the global jihad, offering us his thoughts on what it will take to stop it once and for all.
Aimen Dean is the author of Nine Lives: My Time as MI6 Spy Inside Al-Qaeda. A native of Saudi Arabia, Dean had a rigorous childhood education in Islamic studies: memorizing the Quran and learning the principles of sharia, Islamic history, and Arab tribal genealogy. In 1994, Dean left Saudi Arabia to join jihadist fighters in Bosnia, before continuing on to other fronts in Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Philippines. In 1997 he joined al-Qaeda, and became part of its bomb making and WMD development efforts. Al-Qaeda’s 1998 terror attack on two US embassies in East Africa rattled Dean. After long soul-searching, he secretly defected to the British government and worked undercover for eight years passing information to UK intelligence on al-Qaeda’s networks and plots. In 2006 his cover was compromised by a book published in the US. He left undercover work to become a consultant for a global bank in the Financial Crime/Counter Terror Finance, offering insights on terrorism, terror financing, and Middle East affairs.
On the 11th September 2018, by kind invitation of David T C Davies MP, the Henry Jackson Society had the pleasure of hosting former MI6 double agent at the heart of Al-Qaeda and author of Nine Lives: My Time as MI6 Spy in Al-Qaeda Aimen Dean, Nikita Malik, the Director of the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism and Emma Webb, Research Fellow at the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism.
Dean commenced his speech by giving an insight into the toxic mix of theology and ideology which preceded his membership into Al-Qaeda, aged 19, in the division of Weapons of Mass Destruction. He pointed to the death of his mother and the subsequent need to delve deeper into Islamic ideology. He also described the ideological impulse for joining jihadist fighters in Bosnia in 1994, aged 16, which was brought about by high numbers of Muslim deaths and what he saw as inefficient action by the United Nations.
Regarding his first meeting with Osama Bin Laden in the mid-1990s, Dean remarked that Bin Laden appeared nothing like the infamous robed figure seen in media appearances post-9/11. Rather, Bin Laden looked “dishevelled and disorganised”, making it difficult to imagine that only years later this same man would go on to spearhead the world’s worst terrorist attack.
Discussing his progressive disillusionment with Al-Qaeda, Dean claimed the 1998 suicide attacks conducted by Al-Qaeda on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania made him question the ideology of Al-Qaeda; he thought these attacks would be directed against military personnel, but, in reality, there were over 200 civilian fatalities and over 5000 civilians wounded. In Dean’s opinion, Al-Qaeda was pushing an agenda of death and destruction which made him question what Al-Qaeda could be capable of in the future. Subsequently, Dean secretly defected to MI6 and began passing on information regarding Al-Qaeda’s plots and networks.
Dean rounded off his speech by positing that there is no war between Islam and the West, rather a civil war within Islam itself which is pulling in the West. Dean identified four factions; Nation States, Political Sunni Islam, Militant Sunni Islam and Militant/Political Shia Islam. Dean claimed that these three former factions work to contradict the Nation State. This is dangerous considering that radicalisation can occur when the belief in the Nation State weakens and when Islamist extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda sell redemption through Jihad and martyrdom. Dean concluded that one of the principal ways of fighting against this radicalisation is through the clergy, which needs to work hard towards removing overbearing negativity and guilt within Islamic ideology.
The event was concluded by an insightful and lively discussion between Dean and the audience. The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to have hosted Aimen Dean.
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