The FBI’s Little Known Hostage Rescue Team

The terrorist attacks that took place in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 made national news for several reasons. But one of the things that was not as widely reported was the fact that the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the senior members of the Ansar al-Shariah militia group responsible for the attacks, was carried out by a joint team of US Special Operations personnel and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The capture was an example of the FBI’s international anti-terrorism efforts involving the bureau’s Hostage Rescue Team.

The FBI HRT is one of the lesser known divisions within the bureau but is a critical element of its domestic and international counter-terrorism force. Since the attack of September 11, 2001, the HRT has become one of the primary Special Ops units that are called upon to carry out hostage rescue missions outside of the US.

The United States military has worked in close conjunction with the HRT for the better part of the last 30 years since the HRT was first created. The team began training with Delta Force in the early 1980s during its inceptive years.

In more recent years, however, the FBI has taken over training this special unit. This includes some training by certain of the military’s most elite units. The HRT frequently works with Special Operations teams and often mandates attendance by its troops at special schools hosted by the likes of the US navy SEALs as well as other upper echelon units.

According to senior level members of all of the units involved, the FBI’s HRT has worked well with other military teams both in training as well as in the execution of joint hostage rescue missions. Many of the HRT troops are former military and special operations personnel, so their experience translates well into their role as a member of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team.


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