Born in Denmark, lived in Yorkshire, led the CIA to al-Qa'ida's leader in Yemen

Jonathan Brown on the extraordinary double life of motorcycling outdoor pursuits enthusiast Morten Storm

When Morten Storm arrived in Luton ten years ago he cut quite a swathe. The beared former cage fighter had served a prison sentence in his native Denmark but said he had put a life of drugs and crime behind him. He had also converted to Islam.

At first the ex-biker appeared to embrace the moderate teachings of his Islamic centre, but before long he was an outspoken supporter of extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun and a devoted follower of Osama bin Laden – even naming his eldest son after the late al-Qa'ida leader.

But the truth was far more complex. While posing as a radical Islamist known as Murad Danish, Storm was actually a CIA agent who played a crucial role in the US fatal drone attack on Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, he claimed yesterday.

In a series of interviews with the Danish media, the 36-year-old said he had exploited his friendship with the US-born al-Qa'ida chief to help in the assassination of the radical cleric last year. Storm claims he located Awlaki using an encrypted USB device passed to one of the militant cleric's messengers during a visit to Yemen in 2011. Awlaki is alleged to have orchestrated attacks on Western targets including one involving underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab.

According to the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, since 2006 Storm was under the command of a joint CIA, MI6 and the Danish Intelligence Service PET operation to infiltrate the highest echelons of al-Qa'ida. But he later fell out with his US handlers after they appeared to renege on the offer of a reward for killing Awlaki.

Storm is now thought to be in hiding, but attention is focusing on his life in Britain. The Independent has learnt that he rented an area of woodland near Wetherby, West Yorkshire, where he intended to carry out training on behalf of his outdoor pursuits company.

However, although he conducted a couple of exploratory exercises there, he disappeared without paying his rent last year. Locals described him as a plausible figure who never revealed his Islamic faith.

The website of his company, Storm Outdoors, refers to the founder's experience travelling in some of the world's "most hostile environments" and living among Bedouin tribes in North Yemen.

For much of his time in the UK, he lived in Luton, where he drew attention by proclaiming radical views at a time when community leaders were trying to keep a lid on extremism in the wake of 7/7. Storm also coached young Muslims to box, learnt Arabic and described himself as a "holy warrior" helping recruit members for groups such as the now banned al-Muhajiroun, it is claimed.

Farasat Latif of the Luton Islamic Centre said he initially found Storm to be "friendly and very jolly" but the pair rapidly fell out over his extreme views. "He loved the attention. He first introduced himself as an ex-member of a biker gang and told me about his escapades. But he said he wanted to put all that behind him and become a good Muslim," he said.

But within six months Storm was accusing mosque leaders of apostasy – while spying for the intelligence services.

"Morten Storm not only infiltrated extremist groups in Luton, he promoted them, helped them recruit members, and aided them in theologically refuting their opponents. In short, while he was doing the CIA's dirty work in Yemen, he gave religious extremism a huge boost in Luton," said Mr Latif.

Community members were baffled that the father of two, who had to borrow money to buy nappies for his children, was able to afford to travel to Yemen.

Storm claims to have first met Awlaki in 2006 in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. He said the intelligence organisations "knew that Anwar saw me as his friend and confidant. They knew that I could reach him, and find out where he stayed".

The first plan was to plant a tracking device on the militant cleric who by 2009 was living in the remote Shabwa province. Their final meeting was at the home of a sympathiser in September that year, during which Morten claims Awlaki discussed plans for "poison attacks" on Western shopping centres.

When he returned to Copenhagen he met PET and the CIA who identified the house where they had met using satellite pictures. The premises were later destroyed by Yemeni security forces. In April 2011 Storm claims to have held another meeting with agents at a hotel in Helsingor, eastern Denmark where the plan to pass a USB stick to Awlaki was hatched.

At a meeting with a US official after Awlaki's death, Storm claims he was told his work had been recognised. A recording he made caught the official saying: "I'm talking about the President of the United States. He knows you. So the right people know your contribution. And we are grateful."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines