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Raw uncovers the 'real heroes' of Musab al-Zarqawi's fall

Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: Thursday June 8, 2006

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The Wednesday death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been brought about by a mixture of his own hubris, his ebbing credibility in the al-Qaeda network and the valiant efforts of a special operations unit knows as Task Force 145, RAW STORY has learned.

Although most reports cite Jordanian intelligence as having played a large role in identifying the location of a safe House in Baqubah where Zarqawi was killed on Wednesday, US and foreign intelligence sources tell Raw that in actuality, Jordanian intelligence involvement if any was minimal.

According to sources, five of Zarqawi's men were picked up in early May as part of an already ongoing effort by an elite US special ops force called by their older code name, Task Force 145, which had been scouring Iraq for Zarqawi since the insurgency began. In addition, another elite and much less known highly trained special unit, called also by their older code name, Gray Fox, was said to have been involved. Grey Fox, which used to be known as Intelligence Support Activity or ISA, provides signals monitoring among its varying specialty duties, sources say. The current code names for both Task Force 145 and Grey Fox are not provided in order to protect the safety of the forces on the ground.

During a raid in May of this year in the city of Yusufiyah, Task Force 145 not only captured Zarqawi's five associates, but also found the now infamous April 25th tape in which Zarqawi is shown to be posing Rambo-style dressed in all black, sporting western-style white sneakers and brandishing what appears to be a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

Task Force 145, sources say, continued the series of raids into early June, capturing operatives that would provide information, eventually culminating in the killing of Zarqawi, 7-9 of his lieutenants and other associates in a safe house compound.

Task Force 145 is led by Army Lt. Gen. Stan McChrystal and made up of some of the most well-trained special operations troops (or "elite" forces,) including Delta Forces, SEAL Team 6, and Task Force Black, a British special air "saber" squadron.

Some sources say that the reason Zarqawi made the tape was to impress his higher-ups in the al-Qaeda terrorist network, most notably Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Islamic Jihad in Egypt and the closest associate of Osama bin Laden.

Experts say that when Zarqawi saw his influence waning, he decided to make the video in an effort to bolster support and ignite his followers. Some believe that the making of the tape, ironically, is what may have led Task Force 145 to the city of Yusufiyah to begin with.

Sources also say that US dissemination of the tape--showing a fattened up Zarqawi wearing western style clothing--helped weaken his credibility, and allowed Task Force 145 easier access to information.

Correction: An earlier version of this article did not clearly state that TF145 and Grey Fox are two separate groups. Both are code names employed to protect the integrity of their missions.