ISTANBUL — A Jordanian doctor-turned-suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan is regarded by his family as a martyr in Islam's holy war against the United States, his wife said Thursday.
Covered in a black Islamic chador, Defne Bayrak, the Turkish wife of bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, lauded her husband's Dec. 30 attack to Turkish journalists in Istanbul.
"I am proud of him; my husband has carried out a great operation in such a war. May God accept his martyrdom," Bayrak told the Dogan news agency.
She later told the state-run Anatolia news agency: "My husband did this against the U.S. invasion."
Turkish police questioned Bayrak after her remarks Thursday, her family said. Police confirmed she was questioned and released.
Radical Islamists from around the world praised al-Balawi on Jihad forums and religious Web sites.
"He plunged into the midst of the enemy and carried out a martyrdom operation, detonating his creative and perfect explosive belt," said one eulogy on a site called Online Jihad.
The sites included very few remarks by Turkish Islamists. Several homegrown radical Muslim groups exist in Turkey, but al-Qaida's austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public support.
Still, in 2003 al-Qaida-linked militants killed 58 people in suicide attacks on two synagogues, the British consulate and a British bank in Istanbul.
Bayrak, 30, met her husband while he was studying medicine in Istanbul. They married there in 2001 and moved to Jordan in 2002, when he graduated.
"We had a routine life there; he was not someone who would go out often," she said. "But I knew his inclinations."
Bayrak, an Arabic-language translator for some pro-Islamic Turkish media outlets, said it was not surprising that her husband joined the jihad, since he often wrote on jihad Web sites when they lived in Jordan.
Turkish media reported Thursday that Bayrak was the author of a book titled "Osama bin Laden the Che Guevera of the East," and had translated into Turkish an anti-American book by Saddam Hussein titled "Begone, Demons."
Bayrak said al-Balawi left for Pakistan on March 18, 2009, saying he would become a surgical specialist. This has been disputed by anti-terrorism experts in the Middle East, who say he went to Afghanistan.
Bayrak denied that her husband had been recruited to work for the CIA.
"He had so much hatred for the United States that he could not have been an agent for the CIA," she said. "He might have used Americans and Jordan for his own interest, which he did."
Jordanian intelligence officials have said they believed the devout 32-year-old doctor had been persuaded to support U.S. efforts against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. They say al-Balawi was recruited to help capture or kill Ayman al-Zawahri, a doctor from Egypt who is bin Laden's right-hand man, according to a counterterrorism official based in the Middle East.
Bayrak said her husband was detained in jail for three days by Jordanian intelligence in January.
"They were about 20 men from the Jordanian intelligence, they raided our home late at night on Jan. 19," she said. "They only searched our house randomly, they did not search it in detail. They took away my husband and seized his computer because my husband was writing on Jihad forums."
Al-Balawi was, in fact, a leading Internet Islamic militant writer known as Abu Dujana al-Khurasani, who prayed to God two days after Israel launched its offensive on Gaza to become a martyr by killing many Israelis.
An Islamic Web site Abu Dujana used republished Thursday an article he wrote Dec. 29, 2008, in which he declared his wish to join the holy war. With it, he posted a picture of two women in Islamic dress lying dead in a pool of blood.
"Anyone who sees such painful picture and does not rush to fight should consider his manhood and masculinity dead," he wrote.
"I have never wished to be in Gaza, but now I wish to be a bomb fired by the monotheists or a car bomb that takes the lives of the biggest number of Jews to hell," said al-Balawi wrote under his pseudonym.
His wife said that her husband was given a copy of the Quran when he was jailed in Jordan. Guards prevented him from sleeping by knocking on his cell door, she said. She said her husband told her he was blindfolded during interrogations but not tortured.
To his wife, he was an affectionate father of two young daughters, aged 5 and 7. "He never used force against us. ... I love him," she said.
She said her daughters were not aware of their father's death.
"I think I will wait until they grow up a bit before telling them, if they don't discover it from media," she said. "They will miss their father but they're fond of me, so I think I can manage."
Al-Balawi came from a nomadic Bedouin clan from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, which has branches in Jordan and the West Bank. He was born in Kuwait in 1977 to a middle-class family of nine other children, including an identical twin. He lived there until Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, when his family moved to Jordan. He graduated with honors from a high school in Amman and studied medicine in Turkey.
Early on the morning after he blew himself up, one of his friends called Bayrak from her husband's telephone number in Pakistan.
"My first reaction was mixed, there was a different voice on the other end, he mentioned the attack and extended his condolences. One of my daughters was standing next to me and I had to pretend nothing important happened," she said. "He said he would send his last wish and a letter to me."
Associated Press Writers Jamal Halaby in Zarqa, Jordan, Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, Egypt, and Ceren Kumova in Ankara, Turkey contributed to this report.