Iraq's most covert counter-terrorism force is known as ICTF. These soldiers are the closest thing Iraq has to U.S. Delta Forces, according to the American Navy Seals and Green Berets who fight alongside them.
"They're gonna tell you there's nobody as good as them, and that's exactly the way they oughta be," says a U.S. Green Beret commander.
The ICTF troops keep their faces hidden. Many don't even tell their families what they do — and with good reason: Three members of this elite unit recently were kidnapped and murdered. Their tortured bodies were returned with their eyes gouged out — a message from their enemies.
But one Iraqi sergeant had a message of his own.
"Let the whole world know that we don't fear any kind of danger," he says. "All these soldiers joined this unit for one purpose — to love and serve their country."
But in the murky world of politics and propaganda that is Iraq today, some are casting them as villains rather than patriots.
Pictures and claims that the ICTF slaughtered innocent worshippers during prayer were broadcast on Iraqi television within 22 minutes of the soldiers returning from a recent raid. The soldiers insist the raid was no slaughter — rather, they say, the dead men engaged them in a massive firefight and were part of a kidnapping cell responsible for murdering dozens of Iraqis, including their three comrades.
The ICTF ground commander told CBS News that they detained 18 men and freed a hostage — a claim backed by American Special Operations Forces on the raid.
But the raid was condemned by Iraqi leaders, and the ICTF is being investigated — something these soldiers have to remember when they head out the door night after night on missions like this one, that could cost any of them their lives.
Unlike the regular Iraqi Army, the ICTF has its their own American-made Humvees, armed with machine guns. They are full partners with their American counterparts.
Navy Seals and Green Berets are being driven by Iraqi drivers and protected by Iraqi gunners — a sign of the Americans' confidence in them.
One unit has done more than 700 missions, and on this night, they capture the man they're after. But the unified Iraq these soldiers would like to represent still doesn't exist. And none of them would say which side they would fight for if it comes to civil war.
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