- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2013

The FBI has been busy lately. The same civilian special unit that captured Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in April also rescued 16-year-old Hannah Anderson from her California abductor in August — and also rescued 5-year-old Ethan from his Alabama school bus kidnapping and subsequent bunker ordeal in May.

Meet the Hostage Rescue Team, a unit of the FBI that is wholly civilian, yet trained and even outfitted and armed like a special military task force.

Their skills rival that of the U.S. Navy SEALS, The Week reported. And now their mission — which used to be confined to American soil, to save innocent Americans from criminal situations — have expanded a bit to assist with the global war on terrorism.

The Week reported that the FBI Hostage Rescue Team has been flying under the radar, but nonetheless very active in fighting the war on terror. Members have stretched their crime-fighting wings and headed overseas to take part in missions and investigations that were previously the domain of the U.S. military’s special forces.

One such operation had them engaging in gunfights in Iraq; another, in the arrest and apprehension of Somali’s Mohammad Saaili Shibin, well-known leader of pirates, The Week reported.

Despite the overseas missions and collaborative operations with the military, the FBI unit still fights to maintain its civilian status.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s mantra, The Week reported, was the Hostage Rescue Team members “are not commandos.”