The 30-year-old program was developed in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Extreme? No. Not after the world had witnessed terrorists abduct and murder 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 games in Munich, Germany. At the time, only the military had the assets and training to deal with such a situation, but it could not deploy within the U.S.
HRT Motto: Servare Vitas
"To Save Lives"
This civilian counterterrorism team has responded to nearly 800 incidents since 1983. "When needed, the team is prepared to deploy within four hours of notification to anywhere in the U.S. in response to terrorist incidents, hostage situations, and major criminal threats," FBI.gov. On occasion, they assist the military with sensitive situations in other countries.
- Violent criminals
Recently the HRT joined local law enforcement officers near Midland City, Alabama, to help rescue a 5-year-old boy, in an underground bunker, from his armed captor. They used military surveillance equipment to monitor activity in the 6 ft. by 8 ft. bunker. At the end of the 144-hour standoff, the boy was safe and the abductor was dead, DothanEagle.com.
The HRT had built a mock bunker to train for possible entry. "The FBI Hostage Rescue Team blew the doors off the bunker and shot dead the survivalist during the daring raid...after footage from a secret hi-tech camera showed the boy's life was in imminent danger," DailyMail.co.uk. The press kept many details confidential until the standoff ended. Any publicity could have tipped off the abductor and endangered the boy.
This tremendous success comes on the 30th anniversary of the team's founding. Not all of the team's actions are always praised. In 1993, the HRT was involved in the tragic standoff with the Branched Davidian sect in Waco, Texas. Seventy-four of the cult's members died during the siege, CBSNews.com. To see an overview of how the Hostage Rescue Team is supposed to work, view the FBI's new video, "Hostage Rescue Team Marks 30 Years."
Collins, Laura and Thomas Durante and Rachel Quigley, "I Can't Describe How Incredible it is to Hold Him Again," DailyMail.co.uk, 2-5-2013.
FBI, "The Hostage Rescue Team: 30 Years of Service to the Nation," FBI.gov, 2-1-2013.
FBI, "Hostage Rescue Team Marks 30 Years," Youtube.com, 2-1-2013.
Frontline, "Waco: Chronology of the Siege," PBS.org, (accessed 2-25-2013).
Griffin, Lance, "Hostage Safe, Gunman Dead in Midland City Standoff," DothanEagle.com, 2-4-2013.
Miller, John, "Behind the Scenes of FBI's Secretive Hostage Rescue Team," CBS This Morning, CBSNews.com, 2-6-2013.