Special Activities Division Operations
See the overview of the organization at Special Activities Division.
This page is to be kept updated to maintain a list of all SAD operations.
See the following list of overview articles of operations listed by area or time period.
To find individual pages for specific operations, either search for them by name or find their names listed on the overview pages
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations from WWII through Viet Nam
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations from 1975-2002
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Afghanistan
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Iraq since 2003
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Pakistan
- CIA: SAD and SOG operations worldwide since 2001
This list of Special Activities Division operations begins in World War II, although the Central Intelligence Agency as such did not exist until 1947.
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the United States Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations, black operations and other "special activities". These include covert political action and paramilitary special operations. Within SAD there are two separate groups, one for paramilitary operations and another for political action. The Political Action Group within SAD is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the element within SAD responsible for paramilitary operations. These operations include collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge.
Paramilitary Operations Officers have beeen inserted into the theatre prior to the entry of U.S. military forces in every conflict since World War Two. SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SAD activities have grown in pace and begun to include more overt missions since the end of the Cold War. In the second Iraq War, SAD personnel fought alongside army units in a feint that drew Iraqi forces away from the main tank thrust. SAD still runs covert missions however, as the sabotage and aiding of anti-Iranian groups in Iran may prove to be.
 World War II
The World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was under the Joint Chiefs of Staff but in practice enjoyed autonomy and access to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. OSS included both human intelligence functions and special operations paramilitary functions. Its Secret Intelligence division was responsible for espionage, while its Jedburgh teams, a joint U.S.-UK-French unit, created guerrilla units. OSS' Operational Groups were larger U.S. units in action behind enemy lines. OSS operated primarily in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and the China-Burma-India Theater, and less in General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's area of operations.
From 1943–1945, the OSS also played a role in training Kuomintang troops in China and Burma, and recruited other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage and as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese army. OSS also helped arm, train and supply resistance movements, including Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army in China and the Viet Minh in French Indochina, in areas occupied by the Axis powers. Other functions of the OSS included the use of propaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the OSS during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-Nazi POWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.
OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries that were behind enemy lines, including France, Norway and Greece. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation. The cooperation with the Greek resistance declined immediately after VE Day, when its usefulness in defeating Hitler no longer ameliorated US fear of its contribution to communist power in the region.
OSS itself came to an end shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units. The paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ad hoc groups such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading of guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but the missions that were required to remain covert went to the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS' special operations is the CIA's Special Activities Division.
 Tibet 1950
The CIA's first attempt at manipulating world politics was fruitless for the entire length of its operation. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against the People's Liberation Army of China; selected Tibetan soldiers were trained in the Rocky Mountains and the island of Saipan. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama's clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama said in 1995 that "the US Government had involved itself in his country's affairs not to help Tibet but only as a Cold War tactic to challenge the Chinese."
 Korea 1950Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officer operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of war rescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the "White Tiger" initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.
 Ukraine 1950s
CIA-funded anti-communists movements in the Ukraine after WWII fought on for years until realizing that the CIA had used them to deal damage to the USSR with no intention of joining their struggle.
 Iran 1953
Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq and the democratically elected government of Iran were overthrown by SAD and Britain's MI6 in Operation AJAX (See Iranian coup d'état of 1953 and Iranian coup d'état of 1953: Operation Ajax; they installed the Nazi General Fazlollah Zahedi as Prime Minister. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, son of the Nazi collaborator Reza Pahlavi, under whose regime Iran was the leading exporter of materiel to Nazi Germany, later lead in the semi-dictatorial position of Shah.
 Guatemala 1954
 Indonesia 1957
The CIA assisted the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Indonesia in 1957. The government they installed then went on to invade and occupy East Timor; it was thrown out by the Timorese in one of modern history's few successes for activism and international pressure.
 Cuba 1961
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as "La Batalla de Girón", or "Playa Girón" in Cuba), was an attempt in April 1961 by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba with U.S. government armed forces support, to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was originated by the Eisenhower administration, and launched less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency. The plan went notably awry, and the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces defeated the exile combatants in three days.
 Bolivia 196-
 Vietnam and Laos
CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam. Air America was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam. The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA's Phoenix Program, involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front – NLF) members, including the illegal killing of captives (Third Geneva Convention). Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed, a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government's "pacification" program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents.
 Iran, 1970s on
In January 1978, the Iranian Revolution began with major demonstrations against the Shah. After strikes and demonstrations paralysed the country and its economy, the Shah fled and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran in January 1979. On February 11, rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979 when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum.
In November 1979, a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American embassy in support of the Iranian Revolution. Operation Eagle Claw was the unsuccessful United States military operation that attempted to rescue the 52 hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on April 24, 1980. Several SAD/SOG teams infiltrated into Tehran to support this operation.
On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker stating that the Bush Administration had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to begin cross border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against Quds Force, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, public and private sector strategic targets, and “high-value targets” in the war on terror. Also enrolled to support CIA objectives were the Jundallah, Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K.,and the Baluchis insurgents. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Any significant effort against Iran by the Obama Administration would likely come directly from SAD. and in July 2010, Director Panetta chose a former chief of SAD as the new NCS Director.
 USSR international waters 1973
In 1973, the SAD/SOG USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193) embarked on Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press), to recover a sunken Soviet submarine, Template:Ship, lost in April 1968. Once the operation was exposed in the press, the official account was that a mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery. They did acknowledge that they recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners. However, "Red Star Rogue" claims that all of K-129 was recovered and that the official account was an "elaborate cover-up".
Also in the 1970s, the U.S. Navy, the National Security Agency (NSA) and SAD/SOG conducted Operation Ivy Bells and a series of other missions to place wire taps on Soviet underwater communications cables.
 Nicaragua 1979
In 1979, the U.S.-backed Anastasio Somoza Debayle dictatorship in Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinistas. Once in power, the Sandinistas disbanded the Nicaraguan National Guard, who had committed many human rights abuses, and arrested and executed some of its members. Other former National Guard members helped to form the backbone of the Nicaraguan Counterrevolution or Contra. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams were deployed to train and lead these forces against the Sandinista government, from Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. Some of Reagan's national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third-parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was re-elected as President of Nicaragua in 2006 and took office again on January 10, 2007.
 Afghanistan 1980s
The CIA's presence in Afghanistan was not merely a response to the USSR invading Afghanistan, it was the cause of it. and the Mujahadeen into attacking the Russians, their training camps in Pakistan and relationship with the Pakistan intelligence forces were fostered to further the Afghan killzone.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in training, equipping and sometimes leading Mujaheddin forces against the Red Army. Although the CIA in general and a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson in particular, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers. Vickers was a young Paramilitary Operations Officer from SAD/SOG. The CIA's efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from President Bill Clinton because the available intelligence did not guarantee a successful outcome weighed against the extraordinary risk to the SAD/SOG teams that would execute the mission. These efforts did however build many of the relationships that would prove essential in the 2001 U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan.
 El Salvador 1984
CIA tactics had drifted even further away from the Geneva Conventions by the time of the Salvadoran civil war, and killing of civilians became commonplace and systematic. Unable to stop the leftist insurgency, CIA paramilitary teams and U.S. Army Special Forces set up and trained counterinsurgency units patterned after the "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam; see Death Squad) to combat FMLN members and sympathizers. The techniques used to interrogate prisoners in El Salvador were similar to those later used in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, when a similar counter-insurgency program was proposed in Iraq, it was referred to as "the Salvador Option".
 Iraq 1992-1995
 Guatemala 1993
 Somalia 1993
Somalian and Ethiopian politics is a tangled web, and the full involvement of the CIA in the region may never be known. For example, Ethiopia was for a long time a Communist country, and yet gave considerable aid to US interests, against its neighbor Somalia.
SAD sent in teams of Paramilitary Operations Officers into Somalia prior to the U.S. intervention in 1993. By this time, the CIA was using the stories of operatives killed in action used as 'human interest' stories for propaganda purposes, e.g. paramilitary Officer Larry Freedman, noted as 'the first casualty of the conflict in Somalia, a former Army Delta Force operator and Special Forces soldier who had served in every conflict that the U.S. was involved in, both officially and unofficially, since Vietnam, and awarded the Intelligence Star on January 5, 1993 for his "extraordinary heroism"'
SAD/SOG teams were key in working with JSOC and tracking high value targets (HVT), known as "Tier One Personalities", the precursor to the assassinations that would follow in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, on one occasion planting a radio beacon, inside a walking cane, on a target.
CIA officers kept close tabs on the country and paid a group of Somali warlords to help hunt down targets they alleged were members of al-Qaeda according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, issued a message calling for all Muslims to go to Somalia. On January 9, 2007, a U.S. official said that ten militants were killed in one airstrike.
On September 14, 2009, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al-Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda's surrogate in Somalia, was assassinated by elements of U.S. Special Operations. According to a witness, at least two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters strafed a two-car convoy. JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time including back in January 2007, when an AC-130 Gunship was called in on one attempt. A U.S. intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations. Nabhan was wanted for his involvement in the 1998 United States embassy bombings, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 Mombasa attacks.
 Serbia 2000
 Zimbabwe 2000s
 Afghanistan 2001
In 2001, SAD units were the first U.S. forces to enter Afghanistan. Their efforts organized the Afghan Northern Alliance for the subsequent arrival of USSOCOM forces. The plan for the invasion of Afghanistan was developed by the CIA, the first time in United States history that such a large scale military operation was planned by the CIA. SAD, U.S. Army Special Forces and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan.
 Tora Bora
- See also: Battle of Tora Bora
In December 2001, SAD/SOG and the Army's Delta Force tracked down Osama bin Ladin in the rugged mountains near the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan. Former CIA station chief Gary Berntsen as well as a subsequent Senate investigation claimed that the combined American special operations task force was largely outnumbered by al-Qaeda forces and that they were denied additional US troops by higher command. The task force also requested munitions to block the avenues of egress of bin Laden, but that request was also denied. The team allegedly uncovered evidence in the subsequent site exploration that bin Laden's ultimate aim is to obtain and detonate a nuclear device in a terrorist attack. According to other press reports, SAD were ineffectual and "Bin Laden and bodyguards walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area."
 Iran 2001-present
 U.S. commando units
 Jundullah militants
 Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan
 People's Mujahedin of Iran
 Yemen 2002
On November 5, 2002, a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone killed al-Qaeda members traveling in a remote area in Yemen. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams had been on the ground tracking their movements for months and called in this air strike. One of those in the car was Al-Haitham al-Yemeni, al-Qaeda's chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer Template:USS. Five other people, believed to be low-level al-Qaeda members, were also killed to include an American named Kamal Derwish. Former Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called it "a very successful tactical operation" and said "such strikes are useful not only in killing terrorists but in forcing al-Qa'ida to change its tactics".
Haitham, a native of Yemen known for his bomb-making skills, had been tracked in the hope that he would help lead the United States to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. However, with the May 2005 capture in northwest Pakistan of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, thought to be al-Qaeda's No. 3 man, CIA officials worried Haitham would soon go into hiding, and decided to kill him. "It's an important step that has been taken in that it has eliminated another level of experienced leadership from al-Qa'ida," said Vince Cannistraro, former head of counter-terrorism for the CIA and current ABC News consultant. "It will help weaken the organization and make it much less effective." Haitham was on the run, pursued by several security forces who were looking for him and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, another suspect in the USS Cole bombing case.
In 2009, the Obama administration authorized continued lethal operations in Yemen by the CIA. As a result, the SAD/SOG and JSOC have joined together to aggressively target al-Qaeda operatives in that country, both through leading Yemenese special forces and intelligence driven drone strikes. A major target of these operations is Imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen with ties to both Nidal Hassan, the alleged Fort Hood attacker, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas 2009 attempted bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253.
 Venezuela 2002
See also 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt
In 2002, Washington is claimed to have approved and supported a coup against the democratically-elected Venezuelan government, acting through senior officials of the U.S. government, including Special Envoy to Latin America Otto Reich and convicted Iran-contra figure and George W. Bush "democracy 'czar'" Elliott Abrams, who have long histories in the U.S. backed "Dirty Wars" of the 1980s in Central America, and links to U.S.-supported death squads working in Central America at that time. Top coup plotters, including Pedro Carmona, the man installed during the coup as the new president, began visits to the White House months before the coup and continued until weeks before the putsch. The plotters were received at the White House by the man President George W. Bush tasked to be his key policy-maker for Latin America, Special Envoy Otto Reich. It has been claimed by Venezuelan news sources that Reich was the U.S. mastermind of the coup.
Former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen, told the British newspaper the Guardian that American military attaches had been in touch with members of the Venezuelan military to explore the possibility of a coup. "I first heard of Lieutenant Colonel James Rogers [the assistant military attache now based at the U.S. embassy in Caracas] going down there last June  to set the ground," Mr. Madsen reported, adding: "Some of our counter-narcotics agents were also involved." He claims the U.S. Navy assisted with signals intelligence as the coup played out and helped by jamming communications for the Venezuelan military, focusing on jamming communications to and from the diplomatic missions in Caracas. The U.S. embassy dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous".
The U.S. also funded opposition groups in the year leading up to the coup, channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to U.S. and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Hugo Chavez, including the labor group whose protests sparked off the coup. The funds were provided by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a nonprofit organization whose roots, according to an article in Slate trace back to the late 1960s when the public learned of CIA machinations to covertly fund parties and activists opposing the Soviets. Congress created the NED in 1983 which disburses money to pro-democracy groups around the globe and do so openly. The State Department is now examining whether one or more recipients of the NED money may have actively plotted against the Venezuelan government.
Bush Administration officials and anonymous sources acknowledged meeting with some of the planners of the coup in the several weeks prior to April 11, but have strongly denied encouraging the coup itself, saying that they insisted on constitutional means. Because of allegations, Sen. Christopher Dodd requested a review of U.S. activities leading up to and during the coup attempt. A U.S. State Department Office of Inspector General report found no "wrongdoing" by U.S. officials either in the State Department or in the U.S. Embassy.
 Georgia, 2003
 Iraq 2003
"Operation Iraqi Freedom" featured the use of CIA units integrated with more conventional ground force attacks, as well as covert operations. CIA Drone Attacks targetting resistance leaders, believed to be first used in Pakistan, were in fact the deciding factor in the success of the military surge George Bush ordered into Iraq. SAD Paramilitary teams entered Iraq before the 2003 invasion.
SAD teams then combined with U.S. Army 10th Special Forces group (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE); the team organized the Kurdish Peshmerga for the subsequent U.S.-led invasion. Operation Viking Hammer against Ansar al-Islam in the northeast of Iraq was reported as one of the "most intense battles of Special Forces since Vietnam", and to have found evidence of chemical weapons in Iraq, but the evidence is against this. Only a paint factory was found at the captured Ansar camp, and the lack of any other evidence in Iraq shows that chemical weapons always was a subterfuge. Ansar al-Islam, and therefore the territory, was outside of the control of Iraq itself, and therefore could not have been a stockpile of chemical weapons for Iraq under the administration of Sadaam Hussein's government. Ansar is alleged to be an Islamist group allied to al-Qaeda, which fighters from Afghanistan had joined after the fall of the Taliban. The one rationale for attacking Ansar that ostensibly seems true (assuming that Ansar really was hostile) is that, had it remained, there would have been a hostile force in the rear of the U.S./secular Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on the Iraqi army to the south.
SAD/SOG teams also conducted assassination attempts against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his key generals. An air strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, but sending him on the run, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other assassinations of 'key generals' were successful and significantly degraded the command's ability to react to and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force. SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.
NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD/SOG, U.S. Army Special Forces joint teams, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the 173d Airborne Brigade were the entire northern force against the Iraqi army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 13 Divisions of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather allowing them to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined U.S. Special Operations and Kurdish force defeated the Iraqi army.
The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called "Operation Red Dawn". It was planned and carried out by JSOC's Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force.
CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 they killed or captured many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq. In a CBS 60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. Woodward's belief was that revealing its exact nature would compromise security, but in the light of the CIA Pakistan Drone attacks, this was obviously referring to surveillance and attack drones. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC. Several senior U.S. officials stated that the "joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qa'ida in Iraq".
On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the "foreign fighter logistics network" bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid).
 Ukraine, 2004
The CIA is alleged to have organized demonstrators to protest the elections as a fraud. Declarations by Ukrainian national and local institutions afterwards carried the weight of authority to turn around completely the results of the polls to declare Yushchenko, who had lost the election, the winner. This demonstration could well have been harmless to the CIA had Yushchenko been declared the winner, as these institutions would have carried even more weight with the polls behind them. As it happened, they gave a pretext to the institutions. This is completely consistent with the CIA's MO in Iran ('53), and other nations, where they give themselves a backup strategy. The institutions' declarations are the prime mover, and either the election results or the demonstrations synergize with them.
 Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe 2004
Zimbabwe has accused the United States of involvement in a 2004 attempted coup against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, dictator of Equatorial Guinea. However, since Equatorial Guinea is an incredibly rich nation with its wealth and power in the hands of a very few conservatives, and Zimbabwe has been the target for international conservative propaganda since its revolution, it would seem far more likely that Zimbabwe itself was the target.
 Lebanon 2005On the 5th of March, 2005, the New York Post reported:
U.S. intelligence sources told The Post that CIA and European intelligence services are quietly giving money and logistical support to organizers of the anti-Syrian protests to ramp up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to completely quit Lebanon
The Wikipedia:Cedar Revolution followed, and is thus claimed to have been influenced by the CIA.
 Palestinian Authority, 2006-Present
Following the Palestinian election in 2006 in which Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament, the U.S. backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and the West Bank which was successful in removig Hamas from power in the West Bank.  The Asia Times Online reports that article that since at least January 2006, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah group (which won the Palestinian presidential election, 2005) in order to overthrow the Hamas government elected in the Palestinian legislative election, 2006. Apparently headed up by Elliott Abrams, the U.S. supply of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, has become a torrent and a large number of Fatah men have been trained at two West Bank camps to attack Hamas supporters in the streets. The Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. has designated an astounding US$86.4 million for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security detail. The article states that U.S. arming of Fatah continued even though some officials predicted that it could lead to a Palestinian civil war, which would be an unwelcome development by most countries of the region. An anonymous official stated: "Who the hell outside of Washington wants to see a civil war among Palestinians?" According to an Asia Times article, Elliott Abrams had also publicly advocated a "hard coup" against the newly elected Hamas government, but U.S. spokesmen later dismissed these remarks as due to momentary frustration. CIA, the US military, and Israel have been critical. Officially the support is for "assist[ing] the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the roadmap to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza"
Hamas Foreign Minister Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar has called the arming of Fatah by the United States an "American coup d'état" against the democratically-elected Palestinian government. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by many Western nations.
BBC states that after months of street fighting in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed and the Gaza Strip were seized by the Hamas armed forces, (see Battle of Gaza (2007)), Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government in June 2007, and a new unelected "emergency cabinet," led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was sworn in in place of the Hamas government in the West Bank.
 Somalia 2006-2007
Although the United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades, in early 2006 the CIA began a program of funding a coalition of anti-Islamic warlords. This involved the support of CIA case workers operating out of the Nairobi, Kenya office funneling payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. As the power balance shifted towards this alliance, the CIA program backfired and the militias of the Islamic Court Union (ICU) gained control of the country. Although the ICU was locally supported for having restored a relative level of peace to the volatile region after having defeated the CIA-funded Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism in the Second Battle of Mogadishu, concerns about the growth and popular support for an Islamic country during the United States' War on Terror led to a new approach of the intervention of CIA, the United States military and Ethiopia's dominantly Christian government.
The use of the Ethiopian Army was seen by the United States as an awkward, but necessary way to prevent Somalia from being ruled by an Islamic government unsympathetic to American interests. In December 2006 State Department officials were issued internal guidelines and talking points such as “The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia...” Because of Ethiopia's known human rights abuses such as the massacre of 193 protesters after the 2005 presidential elections, there is conflict between the strategic interest Ethiopia's army and leadership provides in the War on Terror and the human rights this war is allegedly addressing. This conflict has manifested itself in the United States Congress where the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007, calls for the millions of foreign aid to Ethiopia only be delivered if there are significant improvements in the democracy and human rights in that country. The Bush Administration and Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US are strongly opposed to the bill.
 Venezuela 2007
Venezuela claims that a confidential memorandum (concerning Operation Pliers) from the US embassy to the CIA revealed and circulated by the Venezuelan government on November 26, 2007 provides details on the activity of a CIA unit engaged in clandestine action to destabilize the forth-coming national referendum and to coordinate the civil and military overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Venezuela. There was a great deal of accusation that the memo was not authentic.
 Myanmar (Burma), 2007
Myanmar's junta has stated that nationwide monk protests, which took place in August and September, were the results of timely collaborated plots of "a Western power" and antigovernment groups aiming to install a puppet government in the country. The Myanmar junta used to refer to the United States as "a Western power".
 Pakistan 2009
- See also: Drone attacks in Pakistan
The Wikipedia article, and as of 24 Dec '10, the main article on this subject is little more than a list of drone kills
The CIA's presence in Pakistan has always ostensibly been about their presence in Afghanistan. Having tricked the Russians into attacking Afghanistan and the Mujahadeen into attacking the Russians, their training camps in Pakistan and relationship with the Pakistan intelligence forces were fostered to further the Afghan killzone.
When their targets fled to Pakistan, the next phase began; one that had begun in Iraq years earlier, in 2004. Drone attacks were credited, albeit not specifically, by Bob Woodward in his interview with CBS, as the reason for the success of the Surge in Iraq. They were now used to project military power into Pakistan, without leaving Afghanistan, in much the same way as bombing was used in Cambodia. But it was no longer secret, or even villified.
 Afghanistan 'Intelligence surge' 2009
In September 2009, the CIA planned on "deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence "surge" ordered by President Obama. This will make its station there among the largest in the agency's history." This presence is expected to surpass the size of the stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The station is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and is led "by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations". The majority of the CIA's workforce is located among secret bases and military special operations posts throughout the country.
Also in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, planned to request an increase in teams of CIA operatives, including their elite paramilitary officers, to join with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and is largely credited with the success of that surge. There has been basically three options described in the media: McChrystal's increased counterinsurgency campaign; a counter-terror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and withdrawal. The most successful combination in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the linking up of SAD and military special forces to fight along side highly trained indigenous units. One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation. 
 Afghanistan 2009, Camp Chapman attack
- See also: Camp Chapman attack
On December 30, 2009, a suicide bomber attacked Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman, a CIA base in Khost, and killed seven CIA officers, including the chief of the base, as well as two employees of Blackwater Worldwide . Camp Chapman, named for Sergeant First Class Nathan Chapman, is one of the most secretive and highly guarded locations in Afghanistan and a major hub of the Special Activities Division, used for joint operation with military special operations forces and Afghan commandos. On January 14, 2010, Hakimullah Mehsud was attacked by a drone strike in response to this attack. It was initially believed Mehsud died in the strike, but he was later shown to be alive. On February 6, 2010, President Obama attended a memorial ceremony at the CIA headquarters to honor those killed in the Camp Chapman attack. The President said "...to those watching around the world, I say: Let their sacrifice be a summons. To carry on their work. To complete this mission. To win this war". None of the slain CIA officers were members of the Special Activities Division.
 Afghanistan current
According to the current and former intelligence officials, Gen McChrystal also had his own preferred candidate for the Chief of Station job, a good friend and decorated CIA paramilitary officer. The officer had extensive experience in war zones, including two previous tours in Afghanistan with one as the Chief of Station, as well as tours in the Balkans, Baghdad and Yemen. He is well known in CIA lore as "the man who saved Hamid Karzai's life when the CIA led the effort to oust the Taliban from power in 2001". President Karzai is said to be greatly indebted to this officer and was pleased when the officer was named chief of station again. According to interviews with several senior officials, this officer "was uniformly well-liked and admired. A career paramilitary officer, he came to the CIA after several years in an elite Marine unit".
General McChrystal's strategy included the lash up of special operations forces from the US Military and from SAD/SOG to duplicate the initial success and the defeat of the Taliban in 2001.
 Current activity worldwide
(or as WP lets it be known, the Flag waving phrase "Worldwide mission"CIA has always had a Special Activities Division, which secretly carries out special operations mission. However, since September 11, 2001 the US government has relied much more on SAD/SOG because fighting 'terrorists' does not usually involve fighting other armies. (this still does not explain why it has to be done in secret) Rather, it involves secretly moving in and out of countries like Pakistan, Iran and Somalia where the American military is not legally allowed to operate. (or why it has to, let alone gets to, act illegally) If there are missions in these countries that are denied to U.S. military special operations forces, SAD/SOG units are the primary national special missions units to execute those operations.
In the 'Global War on Terror', SAD has the lead in the covert war being waged against al-Qaeda. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams have apprehended many of the senior leaders. These include: Abu Zubaydah, the chief of operations for al-Qaeda; Ramzi Binalshibh, the so called the "20th hijacker"; the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, alleged to be the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing and leader of al-Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf prior to his capture in November 2002; and Abu Faraj al-Libi, al-Qaeda's "field general" believed to have taken the role of No. 3 in al-Qaeda following the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the number two taliban commander and the highest level taliban commander apprehended in the Afghan War. Prior to the beginning of the "War on Terror", SAD/SOG located and captured many notable militants and international criminals, including Abimael Guzman and Carlos the Jackal. These were just three of the over 50 caught by SAD/SOG just between 1983 and 1995.
In 2002, the George W. Bush Administration prepared a list of 'terrorist leaders' the CIA is authorized to kill in a targeted killing, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be kept to an acceptable number. The list includes key al-Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. This list is called the "high value target list". The U.S. president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the CIA required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although the president is kept well informed about operations.
SAD/SOG teams have been dispatched to the country of Georgia, where dozens of al-Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan are believed to have taken refuge with Chechen separatists and thousands of refugees in the Pankisi Gorge. Their efforts have already resulted in 15 Arab militants linked to al-Qaeda being captured.
The SAD/SOG teams have also been active in the Philippines, where 1,200 U.S. military advisers helped to train local soldiers in "counter-terrorist operations" against Abu Sayyaf, a radical Islamist group suspected of ties with al-Qaeda. Little is known about this U.S. covert action program, but some analysts believe that "the CIA’s paramilitary wing, the Special Activities Division (SAD), has been allowed to pursue terrorist suspects in the Philippines on the basis that its actions will never be acknowledged".
On July 14, 2009, several newspapers reported that DCIA Leon Panetta was briefed on a CIA program that had not been briefed to the oversight committees in Congress. Panetta cancelled the initiative and reported its existence to Congress and the President. The program consisted of teams of SAD paramilitary officers organized to execute targeted killing operations against al-Qaeda operatives around the world in any country. According to the Los Angeles Times, DCIA Panetta "has not ruled out reviving the program". There is some question as to whether former Vice President Richard Cheney instructed the CIA not to inform Congress. Per senior intelligence officers, this program was an attempt to avoid the civilian casualties that can occur during predator drone stikes using hellfire missiles.
 See Also
 Further Reading
 External links
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- ↑ C.I.A. Takes On Bigger and Riskier Role on Front Lines, New York Times, MARK MAZZETTI, December 31, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/world/asia/01khost.html)</li>
- ↑ Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll, 2004.</li>
- ↑ Waller, Douglas (2003-02-03). "The CIA Secret Army". TIME (Time Inc). http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101030203/</li>
- ↑ 149.0 149.1 Miller, Greg (July 14, 2009). "CIA Secret Program: PM Teams Targeting Al Qaeda". Los Angeles Times: p. A1.</li>
- ↑ Shane, Scott (June 22, 2008). "Inside a 9/11 Mastermind's Interrogation". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/washington/22ksm.html?pagewanted=3. Retrieved March 27, 2010.</li>
- ↑ Eggen, Dan; Pincus, Walter (December 18, 2007). "FBI, CIA Debate Significance of Terror Suspect". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/17/AR2007121702151.html. Retrieved March 30, 2010.</li>
- ↑ 152.0 152.1 "Binalshibh to go to third country for questioning". CNN. September 17, 2002. http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/south/09/16/alqaeda.pakistan/. Retrieved March 30, 2010.</li>
- ↑ Shane, Scott (June 22, 2008). "Inside a 9/11 Mastermind's Interrogation". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/washington/22ksm.html. Retrieved March 27, 2010.</li>
- ↑ Top al Qaeda operative arrested, CNN, 2002-11-22 (http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/11/21/alqaeda.capture/index.html)</li>
- ↑ "Pakistan seizes 'al Qaeda No. 3'". CNN. May 5, 2005. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/04/pakistan.arrest/index.html. Retrieved March 30, 2010.</li>
- ↑ http://abcnews.go.com/International/mullah-baradar-afghan-taliban-captured/story?id=9848587</li>
- ↑ 157.0 157.1 Risen, James; Johnston, David (December 15, 2002). "Bush Has Widened Authority of C.I.A. to Kill Terrorists". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/15/international/15INTE.html?pagewanted=all&position=bottom. Retrieved March 27, 2010. Template:Dead link</li>
- ↑ CIA Had Plan To Assassinate Qaeda Leaders, Mark Mazzetti and Shane Scott, New York Times, July 14, 2009, A1</li>
- ↑ CIA Plan Envisioned Hit Teams Killing al Qaeda Leaders, Siobahn Gorman, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2009, A3</li></ol>
- ↑ Woodward, Bob (November 18, 2001). "Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/CIA18.html.</li>
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