The first mission was to locate Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction but now the special forces unit is under orders to track down Saddam.
TF 20’s existence and mission is classified. But their past operations included capturing Palestinian leader Mohammad Abbas, also known as Abu Abbas, in Baghdad in mid-April. He was said to be responsible for hijacking an Italian cruise ship in 1985.
It is also responsible for seizing about half of Washington’s “high value” Iraqi weapons scientists, including Dr Rihab Rashid Taha and Dr Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash.
The Pentagon keeps tight-lipped over the covert unit. One military official has been quoted as saying: “We keep very quiet about Task Force 20 for a reason-they’re effective.”
While TF 20’s main aim is to “seize, destroy, render safe, capture or recover weapons of mass destruction” it has failed to provide any evidence that Baghdad possessed such arms.
TF20 soldiers are the best trained
forces in the US military
Now the covert unit has focused its energies on capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The unit’s forces are derived from the elite Army special mission units known as Delta Force, which is one of Washington’s principle task corps handling so-called counter-terrorist operations outside of the United States. It also includes Central Intelligence Agency officers.
The Delta Force, created in 1977, is heavily influenced by Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS). A technical group within this force is responsible for eavesdropping equipment used to capture enemies and hostage rescues.
The top commando unit is said to employ the best trained combat forces from among the Delta Force and US military, although their methods in Iraq have raised questions over human rights.
On Sunday, during another failed operation, the elite soldiers opened fire and killed five innocent Iraqi bystanders as they raided a home in the Mansour district of Baghdad where they believed Saddam was hiding.
Military and intelligence officials boast it is equipped with the most technically advanced detection knowledge, including DNA identification of pathogens. Its biological and chemical laboratories can be stored within collapsible tents.