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Members of first CIA teams into Afghanistan after 9/11 fear action for refusing vaccines

Three members of the first CIA teams sent to Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden and topple the Taliban after 9/11 have been told they face disciplinary action for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, DailyMail.com has learned.

Because of the clandestine role they cannot speak publicly but are understood to be furious that their careers are on the line because of the Biden’s administration’s vaccine mandates.

Details emerged from a group chat shared with DailyMail.com in which staff said they had been told they could face disciplinary action including being dismissed if they refuse. 

It is part of wider unease about the mandate among paramilitary officers who are often encouraged to break rules to accomplish their missions, according to Toby Harnden. 

His new book, ‘First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11’ details the story of the first teams sent to Afghanistan after the Al Qaeda attacks.

‘I’ve heard a number of CIA officers express concern about the vaccine mandates,’ he said. 

‘Some of these officers find it outrageous that some of those who put their lives on the line are now having to witness a catastrophic failure in Afghanistan and at the same time the prospect of their careers being ended because they believe they should have the option not to take a COVID vaccine.’  

In this image taken eight days after 9/11, CIA officers are seen on board a flight guarding $3 million in cash in three cardboard boxes – money the authorities hoped would help spur anti-Taliban forces on to take Kabul and root out Al Qaeda. Twenty years later, three members of the CIA’s early Afghanistan mission (not pictured) face disciplinary action for refusing COVID-19 vaccines

A Russian-built helicopter takes off from the Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul November 16, 2001 in Afghanistan. American special forces, CIA and other intelligence agencies were on the ground in Afghanistan to pursue Washington's declared war against terrorism

A Russian-built helicopter takes off from the Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul November 16, 2001 in Afghanistan. American special forces, CIA and other intelligence agencies were on the ground in Afghanistan to pursue Washington’s declared war against terrorism

This photograph, released by the CIA, was taken on September 20 2001 and marked the first full day of travel for team Jawbreaker, one of nine units sent into Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban fled from the capital Kabul within two months

This photograph, released by the CIA, was taken on September 20 2001 and marked the first full day of travel for team Jawbreaker, one of nine units sent into Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban fled from the capital Kabul within two months

In line with other agencies, the CIA had adopted a policy of requiring that staff and contractors declare they are fully vaccinated or submit to testing.

That changed last week when President Biden signed an executive order mandating vaccinations for federal staff.  

A spokesperson for the CIA said its procedures for complying were still being developed.

‘We are developing procedures to implement the recent executive orders requiring COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees and contractors,’ he said.

But the result has been ripples of anger through government departments among the vaccine hesitant.

Opposition has split along party lines, with many Republicans furious at such an aggressive move. 

In the intelligence community, contractors – who will simply lose work if they fail to comply – have been the most vocal in online forums, while the vast majority of CIA staffers are already vaccinated.

A former CIA intelligence officer said: ‘I have heard anecdotally that some contractors and paramilitaries are resisting taking the vaccine.

‘I also know that COVID is being taken seriously at CIA headquarters and at overseas stations and bases.’  

The two officers and one contractor caught up in the controversy were part of what Former CIA Counter Terrorism Center Director Cofer Black later called the agency’s ‘finest hour.’ 

Without a plan for military deployments in Afghanistan after 9/11, President Bush turned to the CIA to quickly take on Al Qaeda and the Taliban. 

Nine teams were dispatched to Afghanistan, along with Green Berets and air power. And by early November about 100 CIA officers and 300 U.S. Special Forces were on the ground.

Last week President Biden triggered anger with an executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for federal workers and companies with more than 100 staff

At the CIA, director William Burns said in July that more than 95 percent of employees were already vaccinated

Last week President Biden triggered anger with an executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for federal workers and companies with more than 100 staff. At the CIA, director William Burns said in July that more than 95 percent of employees were already vaccinated

They were tasked with working with anti-Taliban resistance fighters of the Northern Alliance to take the capital Kabul and hunt down Al Qaeda.  

It worked. By mid-November, the Taliban had been ousted from Kabul in a swift victory. 

‘I feel for these 3 individuals,’ said a retired paramilitary officer.

‘Any health decision is a personal one. I was able to defer the anthrax shots until they were no longer required. 

‘However, with the politicization of this virus and the so-called vaccine I fear these three, along with untold others, will be forced to confront a hard decision to either stand firm in their beliefs or accede to dictate from the government.’

But some veterans of the agency said there were good reasons to insist staff were vaccinated.  

‘Vaccination is now mandatory for the military, and CIA has important responsibilities to work closely with the military, so it’s reasonable for the agency to make vaccines mandatory as well,’ said former case officer Kevin Carroll. 

‘Also, someone not educated and public-spirited enough to take a proven vaccine, during a deadly pandemic that likely began in an adversary’s bioweapons lab, may not be suitable for further service as a US intelligence officer.’

The CIA has been well ahead of national vaccination rates.

In July, CIA director William Burns told NPR: ‘Navigating through the COVID pandemic — and we’re still navigating through it, although, at CIA, we have fully vaccinated more than 95% of our officers, both at headquarters and overseas.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk