The FBI's transformation from a crime-fighting agency to a counterterrorism organization after the 9/11 attacks is well known. Less widely known, reports the Washington Post, has been the bureau's role in secret operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other locations around the world. With the war in Afghanistan ending, FBI officials are more willing to discuss a little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The relationship benefited both sides. JSOC used the FBI's expertise in exploiting digital media and other materials to locate insurgents and detect plots. The bureau's agents, in turn, could preserve evidence and maintain a chain of custody should any suspect be transferred to the U.S. for trial. The FBI's presence on the far edge of military operations was not universally embraced. As agents found themselves in firefights, some in the bureau expressed uneasiness about a domestic law enforcement agency stationing its personnel on battlefields.