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Widow of CIA agent killed in Afghanistan base suicide blast breaks her silence after 10 years

13 Jan 2020 Daily Mail Online

The widow of a CIA agent killed in the deadliest single day attack on the agency, has finally broken her silence 10 years after he died in the Afghanistan suicide bomb.

Racheal LaBonte appeared on the Today show Monday, alongside her daughter Raina who was only two years old when Darren LaBonte was killed at 35 in the December 30, 2009 suicide blast depicted in Oscar-winning movie Zero Dark Thirty.

Darren had phoned his wife to say the day before to say he was coming home. But he never made it back after carrying out one last mission that he told superiors he was reluctant to do and that his father urged him to call off.

'I fell to my knees, started crying,' LaBonte told Today's Savannah Guthrie about receiving the news in a phone call.

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Widow Racheal LaBonte has opened up to Today about receiving the news her CIA agent husband had died in the December 2009 suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan: 'I fell to my knees, started crying'

Darren LaBonte joined the CIA in 2006. The widow says she 'couldn't breathe' when she heard about her husband's passing

She was on vacation in Italy with Darren's family: 'And my mother-in-law's standing right in front of me, my brother-in-law's standing right in front of me, and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't breathe.'

In the interview, LaBonte fondly remembers meeting Darren on a blind date. He was a former Army Ranger and SWAT team officer in Libertyville, Illinois before 9/11 and warned to go back to the Army again after September 11, 2001 but his wife forbid him.

'Find another way to serve,' she recounts telling him.

Darren eventually worked for the FBI then in 2006 became a CIA case officer based in Amman, Jordan. 

He was a handler for bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who the CIA believed was a double agent helping them gain intelligence on Al Qaeda but was in fact a triple agent.

Seven officers and contractors were fatally injured in the Camp Chapman attack.

The CIA team was criticized for making fatal errors such as not searching al-Balawi before the deadly meeting in a bid to make him feel welcome.

CIA Director Leon Panetta did not discipline anyone and simply said in a report that came out 10 months later: 'This is a case where there are some systemic failures where all of us have responsibility, and all of us need to fix it.' 

Raina, 12, (left) says the good work her father did has pushed her to strive to do better every day, especially in her studies

She visits Darren's grave in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia several times a year with Raina

Racheal LaBonte wants her husband to get the recognition her deserves: 'I think that it's important for people to know that there are people out there in the shadows that are doing behind-the-scenes work that they don't even realize'

Now the mother wants their little girl, now 12, to carry her father's memory with her. 

'I think that it's important for people to know that there are people out there in the shadows that are doing behind-the-scenes work that they don't even realize,' LaBonte NBC News for the Today show. 

'They are the sheepdogs to the sheep. There is danger that is lurking in the shadows, and there are people out there that are protecting every single one of us.'

She visits Darren's grave in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia several times a year with Raina.

Raina says she remembers her father holding her and the good work he did has pushed her to strive to do better every day, especially in her studies.

Although the pair appear somber a decade on, they are trying to make sure Darren's memory lives on.

'It doesn't feel like 10 years. Feels more just like yesterday,' Labonte continued. 'The emptiness is still there. However, the celebration of a life is way more important, and we try to do that every single year — every day of the year.'

Oscar-winning movie Zero Dark Thirty (2012) is centered around the story of the CIA attack at Camp Chapman but officer LaBonte's family want people to understand who he truly was

Darren's father Dave said: 'For 35 years, he lived a high-speed life. He did what he could to make the world a better place, and he shouldn't be forgotten'

His parents also don't want him to be forgotten.

Father Dave LaBonte says he tried to talk Darren out of leaving the military for a safer and higher paid role elsewhere.

His mother Camille told NBC News: 'He said, "It's more important to do something that matters than to make money."'

They have an oil painting on their wall commissioned by King Abdulla of Jordan whose military intelligence officer cousin, Captain Sharif Ali bin Zeid, acted as a liaison between the bomber and CIA and was also killed in the attack. 

'For 35 years, he lived a high-speed life,' Dave LaBonte said. 'He did what he could to make the world a better place, and he shouldn't be forgotten.' 

Father Dave LaBonte says he tried to talk Darren out of leaving the military for a safer and higher paid role elsewhere. His mother Camille told NBC News: 'He said, "It's more important to do something that matters than to make money"'

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7882111/Widow-CIA-agent-killed-Afghanistan-base-suicide-blast-breaks-silence-10-years.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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