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"Drone Warrior" Brett Velicovich on the "incredible responsibility" of hunting terrorists

Author of "Drone Warrior"
Brett Velicovich describes hunting the ISIS leader with drones 05:19

For nearly a decade, Brett Velicovich was one of an elite handful in the military at the center of America's covert drone war.

His special operations task force used drones to follow, capture and kill some of the world's deadliest terrorists. During one four-month period, they removed 14 of the 20 most wanted terrorists from the battlefield in Iraq.

Velicovich shares his experiences in a new book, "Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier's Inside Account of the Hunt for America's Most Dangerous Enemies."

Brett Velicovich's book "Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier's Inside Account of the Hunt for America's Most Dangerous Enemies" 

The former intelligence analyst told "CBS This Morning" that 9/11 was a "wake-up call to realize that there was so much more that I could do with my life." So he joined the Army. 

"I rose through the ranks fairly fast and I was given really incredible responsibility with some of these more elite organizations that I worked with to really, essentially, hunt down some of the world's most evil people. And so my job was specifically to choose these targets and find them so they could either be captured or killed," Velicovich explained.  

There is a chain of command when choosing and approving targets, Velicovich said, "but at the levels that we were at—especially in the war zones that I operated in—that  delegation was brought to the lowest levels."

In his book, Velicovich calls the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the smartest terrorist he's ever hunted.

"We made him very paranoid," he explained. "The fact is, for him to be able to stay alive after all of the things that we did over these years and all of the things that the great men and women who were in positions I was, were doing against his organization—that takes a brilliant mind."

Although Velicovich wasn't the one pulling the trigger, he says he became somewhat desensitized to death.

"Never before in the history of the world have we had this ability to know so much about our enemy," he explained. "With that you see some very terrible things these guys are doing but you also see the humanity in it. I see the ISIS leader that's, you know, driving his kids to the bus stop while a few hours later then he's driving a car into a marketplace to kill innocent people."

ISIS using drones as effective tool in arsenal 02:16

When asked by "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose whether terrorists will soon have access to the same technology we do, Velicovich said, "I think in some ways they use it a little better than us. They don't have to play by the same rules we do and that's why you see groups like ISIS now modifying commercial, consumer drones and weaponizing them in a way that is better than even certain governments have."  

However, Velicovich is confident that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi will be taken off the battlefield one way or another.

"In my opinion Baghdadi's already dead, he just doesn't even know it. You know, it's just a matter of time," he said.

"What I think is important is for people to understand the position that I was in and guys that are doing this job right now and talk to them about who is the next Baghdadi, because Baghdadi's finished, you know. But if we're in this business of revenge, then we've already lost the war." 

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