A former CIA spy who was one of the first Americans searching for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan after 9/11 is being mourned after his August death and hailed as a legend.
The late Gary Schroen, as chronicled in his book "First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan," was given his Operation: "Jawbreaker" orders for going to Afghanistan eight days after Sept. 11, 2001: "Capture bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box on dry ice."
Schroen, 80, died in August (1941-2022), just one day after the Biden administration announced al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone strike, The Washington Post reported.
"Gary said [Jawbreaker] was the best thing he did in his career," his widow Anne McFadden told the Post. "It was the culmination of everything he'd been trying to do.
"There was a little bit of vengeance, but mostly, he just said, 'I was the right person to go.' I once asked him if he was afraid and he said, 'Not really.'"
Schroen, who received 11 CIA medals in his 50 years of service, famously received word of bin Laden's killing by U.S. forces from a reporter calling his bedside phone in the middle of the night.
"You know, he didn't talk that much about what he got the medals for," McFadden told the Post. "He had these in a drawer. I put them out."
Among the intelligence delivered by Schroen were targets for strikes at the Taliban and al-Qaida.
"He had a huge impact in my planning with the agency director [George Tenet] and even directly with President George W. Bush," Hank Crumpton, former CIA special operations chief, told the Post. "I took what he said as gospel."
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