From suburban cop to terrorist tracker for the CIA

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CHICAGO — Any one of Darren LaBonte’s jobs would have made for a remarkable career for most. He was an Army Ranger, a Libertyville police officer, a deputy U.S. Marshal and then became an FBI agent. It wasn’t enough.

“He felt one person can make a difference,” Dave LaBonte, Darren’s father, said.

Soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks, family and friends said LaBonte wanted to get back in the fight and bring those responsible to justice. That’s why he left the Libertyville Police Department for a job in federal law enforcement.

Few could imagine the path he would travel in the years to follow. It’s a path that ultimately led him to the Central Intelligence Agency and the unforgiving terrain of Afghanistan.

“He could do anything he wanted to do and that’s what he wanted: To be right there at the top of the spear,” Paul Banos, who worked with LaBonte in the U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago, said.

That’s how LaBonte found himself at a remote CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan days after Christmas in 2009. He was there to meet a Jordanian doctor whom the CIA thought was a double agent who could lead them to al-Qaeda’s leaders. It was a trap.

“When that phone call came I just dropped to my knees,” Darren’s widow, Racheal, said.  “I couldn’t breathe.”

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