The Men in the Shadows -- Hunting al-Zarqawi

ByABC News via logo
June 8, 2006, 11:31 PM

June 9, 2006 — -- They're relentless manhunters, often referred to ambiguously as the "coalition forces" in mission briefings and reports. Yet this shadowy group, Task Force 145, is a veritable all-star team of Special Forces. The Task Force has now been thrust into the spotlight after leading the way to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Reportedly, Task Force 145 was a Pentagon post-9/11 creation formed in the summer of 2003 when the military merged two existing special operations units assigned to locate Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein and his sons in Iraq. TF 145 is composed of elite personnel from American Delta Force, Navy SEAL Team 6, Army Rangers and British Special Forces, as well as members of the FBI and CIA.According to a recent article in the Army Times, TF 145 is divided into four subordinate task forces in Iraq: Task Force West, Task Force Central, Task Force North, and Task Force Black, which is made up of the British Special Air Service "saber squadron" and the British Special Forces Support Group.

"Task Force 145 uses a process that they call the unblinking eye, which is essentially a very tight linkage between intelligence and operations, meaning that as soon as they have intelligence they want to act on it, rather than sit and dwell on it for days at a time," said Sean Naylor, who reported a piece on TF 145 for the Army Times.

The group is currently based out of a secret base in Balad, Iraq. After the capture of Saddam Hussein, TF 145 was assigned one main task: Capture or kill terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and dismantle his al Qaeda network.

After years of tracking him, the unit played an integral role in digging up the intelligence that led to al-Zarqawi's death early Wednesday morning.

According to reports, these special operations groups were allowed to operate seemingly under a different set of rules than traditional military personnel. Allowed to wear civilian clothes and grow beards and long hair, TF 145 has also come under fire in the past for aggressive interrogation tactics.