Part IHunting Down Terrorist Bombers
Retired FBI Agent Greg Snider has spent the last year and half hunting for the most dangerous predators on earth—men using bombs to kill and terrorize. Greg, imbedded with our military units in Iraq, sifted through the debris of the latest bombing sites searching for elusive clues. He and his teammates searched for evidence that might lead military and law enforcement to identify these bomb makers and track the manufactures providing hardware and explosives to these killers.
Cold nights, scorching days, and blinding dust storms are some of the conditions Greg and his team endured in this manhunt. As they searched, they were always watching their back, wondering when they might become the hunted by those who kill indiscriminately.
Back in the states, Greg has agreed to tell us his story about the fight that is still being waged in that country and other parts of the world by our troops. No country is immune, as New Yorkers discovered again in May when a Pakistani-born man rigged an SUV with a homemade designed to explode in Times Square. Fortunately, this bomb failed.
In this three-part interview, Greg will tell us about his experiences in this search for these killers.
Danger hs never been something Greg ran away from during his career. As an FBI, he worked undercover so effectively the bureau needed to relocate him after the case finally surfaced in court. He served for many years on that agency’s SWAT, responding to call outs that he chooses not to discuss. He learned to fly, became a pilot for the bureau, and limped away from one crash only to continue flying again. He was awarded the FBI’s highest award for bravery after saving the life of another federal agent on the high seas during yet another undercover operation. I know these things about Greg, because he is my friend and partner in a number of cases. He is an unassuming gentleman who has always stayed away from the lime light. He gave this interview because we are friends.
In my book, this man is an American hero.
MARK: Thanks, Greg, for allowing us to learn a little more about what is going on overseas. It is not often we get to pull back the shades for a personal view as to what is happening in Iraq. First, tell us about how you learned about this job? I don't imagine you learned about it in the want ads. Did you know what you were going to get into?
GREG: I first heard about this opportunity approximately nine months or so before actually learning what the real mission was all about. It is “Saving Soldiers Lives.” The number one killer of our Soldiers and loss limbs are due to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), bombs!
When I first heard of this program I said “No way, are you nuts.” Going to a war zone to work with the U. S. Army, you’ve got to be kidding.
After talking to another retired FBI agent with whom I am very well acquainted, he told me that we would be advising the battle space commanders about “investigations.” Something they knew nothing about. We were going to be the “experts” on how to investigate those organized criminal groups, just like the drug organizations in Mexico and the U.S., responsible for supplying the bomb materials, training the bomb makers, the manufacturing of the bombs, those placing the bombs and those triggering them. The mission was then clear, something I’ve been doing for many years as an FBI agent.
I saw a chance to make a difference. It was now clear that the right people might be able to have an impact in this fight. I could be an added value to the Army. Although my heart was now in it, I also thought this is idiotic, to say the least, to go to a war zone at my age. How would I keep up with the 20-something year old soldiers? It would be a challenge to say the least.
I decided to follow up and contacted Military Professional Resource, Inc. (MPRI), which was acquired by L-3 Communications about 30 years ago, regarding my qualifications and their requirements. I further learned that their idea was to take well seasoned law enforcement individuals and embed them into a military unit as an advisor. I would in essence become one of the Commander’s resources to use at his discretion. There was a lot of discussion about my physical condition and whether I was medically “fit for duty.” They mailed me the forms for the medical checkups and further descriptions of what the mission was about and requirements. A side note, I learned that about one person per class discovered some major medical issue that they did not know they had, i.e. cancer or a heart ailment.
The reasons for the medical checkups and questions about my physical conditioning were because for all intent and purpose I was going to be a soldier. I was going to be required to carry a gun, wear a U.S. Army uniform, and carry all the same equipment to include body armor weighing about 55 pounds before you add all the ammo and other army stuff to it. Oh, and the heat, wearing all that equipment in the heat! Also required were a series of inoculations for everything you can imagine and some that you would rather not.
The realization that this was going to be a huge undertaking on my part at my age (59) was now ranking at the top of the list of all the major decisions I have ever made in my life. Not to mention the fact that I was going to be taking the same risk of death as those soldiers I would be working hand-in-hand with. I would be in the battle space face to face with an enemy who wanted to kill you.
Once I had wrapped my mind around taking on such a daunting task, probably the most perplexing issue was signing up for a one year tour of duty and leaving the family for such a long period. Luckily my wife is as capable as she is understanding. Of course I would miss her and my family tremendously. After much discussion we agreed that this would be “Greg’s last big adventure.”
MARK: What did you need to do to prepare for this tour of duty?
GREG: Besides making sure I met all the requirements presented above, I was already working out on a weekly basis, so I increased the intensity of my workouts and completed most of the medical requirements. At first, MPRI was not calling me back. After several inquiries I later learned that they were very concerned that I may be a problem because I have two prosthetic shoulders. Would that one medical factor cause me not to be able to complete the one year required deployment, they asked? I persisted with explanations of what my conditioning and weight bearing capabilities were and finally they acquiesced and accepted my application. A good word from other LEPs (embedded Law Enforcement Professionals) who know me was probably the deciding factor.
MARK: Although you’ve served your country with the FBI in a number of ways, you never served in the military. Did that take a little getting used to?
GREG: Yes, I was not in our armed forces. However, I was a firearms instructor, a SWAT agent, and a sniper for over 14 years with the FBI. So, I was very familiar with the equipment and weaponry. Of course there was going to be a requirement to pass an army firearms qualification course. I was already familiar with the army’s 5 paragraph “Operations Order,” as we had a similar requirement in the FBI. My knowledge of tactics and patrolling was already sound.