The Federal Bureau of Investigation formed a little-known alliance with the military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, putting agents on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate report in The Washington Post.
Agents with the bureau’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, embedded with JSOC operators, have participated in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan — creating a a marriage of convenience in which agents help troops exploit digital media and other intelligence for follow-on missions, while also gathering evidence in case a terror suspect is brought back to the U.S.
The revelation lends further credence to claims a once-exclusive law enforcement agency has morphed into an agency dedicating most of its resources to counterterrorism. Indeed since 9/11, the task of thwarting terrorist plots has consumed the majority of the FBI’s budget — $US3.3 billion compared to $US2.6 billion for organised crime, according to a report written for Mother Jones by Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory.
While no agents have been killed in these types of raids, some have been wounded — somewhat of a surprise considering agents were regularly involved in shooting incidents overseas, The Post reported.
It hasn’t been just Iraq and Afghanistan either. HRT had one agent with the Navy SEALs who raided the beachfront compound of Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia in 2013, and two agents were on the Delta Force operation that nabbed an Al Qaeda terrorist right off the streets of Libya.
James Davis, the FBI’s legal attache in Baghdad in 2007 and 2008, told The Post that some “questioned whether this was our mission. The concern was somebody was going to get killed.”
While some legal questions have come from this overseas arrangement, HRT has often worked with the military in the past. The unit regularly trains with Delta, SEALs and other special operators and adopts similar tactics. It also lists experience in military special operations as a requirement if a selectee does not have SWAT experience.
The use of HRT has often blurred between law enforcement and the military in its 30-year history. When planning for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, unit founder William H. Webster looked to the Army’s Delta Force training for guidance. And when HRT was officially stood up in 1983, it was Delta operators who trained and vetted its first members.
Team members from HRT have deployed domestically and overseas nearly 800 times, according to the FBI website.
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