Gary Schroen, heroic CIA officer in Afghanistan after 9/11, dies at 80

The CIA announced on Monday that Gary Schroen, who led the CIA’s first incursion into Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had passed away due to a stroke at the age of 80 years.

The CIA honored Schroen, who is known for the operation that, more than 20 years ago, set the framework for a full-fledged invasion, and said that his work will continue to serve as an example for its employees.

“Today, the CIA mourns the passing of Gary Schroen, a legend and inspiration to every Agency officer. In Afghanistan more than two decades ago and in every other role he served at the CIA, Gary embodied the very best of our organization,” CIA Director William Burns said in a statement.

William added, “we will never forget his unwavering dedication, loyalty, and perseverance to protect and defend our country,” CIA Director William Burns said in a statement.”

The announcement that a drone attack had killed al Qaeda commander and 9/11 mastermind Ayman al Zawahiri was made shortly after President Joe Biden gave a speech to the nation.

Schroen oversaw CIA efforts to apprehend Osama bin Laden while serving as the head of the station in Islamabad, Pakistan, between 1996 and 1999. When the planes hit the World Trade Center and other buildings on September 11, 2001, a sequence of attacks that claimed over 3,000 lives, he was about to retire.

He decided to postpone his retirement plans in response to the attack and offered to lead the first CIA mission into the war-torn nation that followed the attacks, according to the agency.

About 15 days after 9/11, his crew of seven people took a plane to Afghanistan, according to him. Schroen remembered to NPR that he had been given specific orders “to arrest Bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box on dry ice.”

The operation he was on was known as Operation Jawbreaker.