Black Ops : The Life Of A Cia Shadow Warrior by Ric Prado
The Explosive National Bestseller
A gripping personal account by the highest-ranking covert operative to reveal the clandestine battles America has waged since the Vietnam Era. Enrique Prado experienced his first combat at the tender age of seven. Born into a middle-class Cuban family amidst the chaos of the Castro Revolution, they fled their war-torn homeland in search of a better life in the United States. Five decades later, this Cuban refugee retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the equivalent rank of a two-star general. Black Ops unveils Ric’s extraordinary career, which unfolded during the Cold War and the Age of Terrorism. Operating in the shadows, Ric and his fellow CIA agents waged a concealed war to safeguard the United States from those who sought to harm it.
From assignments in Central and South America to the Philippines, Black Ops traces Ric’s trajectory to the pinnacle of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In the late 1990s, he assumed the role of Deputy Chief of Station and helped establish the Bin Laden Task Force. Three years later, after leading Korean Operations, Ric embarked on one of his most perilous undertakings: the re-establishment of an abandoned CIA station in a hostile nation that had long been a frontline in the battle against Islamic terrorism. Through covert operations and the cultivation of vital assets, Ric and his team played a pivotal role in the impending War on Terror.
Black Ops is an exhilarating memoir that delves into the clandestine realm of assassins, terrorists, spies, and revolutionaries. It pays tribute to the courage, ingenuity, and unwavering commitment of the Agency’s elite Special Activities Group and its shadow warriors.
Life Undercover: The Story of a CIA Shadow Warrior
Shadow Warriors: The Covert World of CIA Agents
They are known as shadow warriors – a select group of CIA agents who undertake high-risk covert missions. Recently, two of the best took the time to sit down with journalist David Martin to discuss their lives undercover. One of them is Rick Prado, a retired CIA agent who now trains local SWAT teams in Saint Augustine, Florida.
A Dangerous Man
Rick Prado is no stranger to danger. During his time with the CIA, he spent 24 years as a shadow warrior. Prado’s years of service have earned him the nickname “meat-eater” – a moniker that has nothing to do with his diet. Prado explains, “I like knives because they scare me, so I figure they scare everybody else too. It’s a good weapon to have.”
Prado’s journey to becoming a shadow warrior began in Cuba, where his family owned a coffee roasting business. However, when Fidel Castro came to power and seized their business, they were forced to make a difficult decision. At just 10 years old, Prado was put on a plane to the United States alone, with no guarantees that his family would be able to follow. He spent eight months in an orphanage before being reunited with his parents in Hialeah, Florida.
Discovering His Mission
Prado joined the Air Force in 1971, becoming a pararescueman. However, when the Vietnam War ended and his dream of serving there faded, he found his true calling in the CIA. Prado began working undercover with anti-communist rebels in jungle camps in Honduras. He explains, “The rebels were my kind of people. I saw what that communist octopus monster did to my family, to my country. To be here, helping individuals who faced the same monster, doesn’t get any more basic than that.”
Prado’s expertise extended beyond training rebels. He even turned a group of lobster divers into skilled frogmen, who successfully blew up a pier at a Nicaraguan port. At the height of the Reagan Doctrine, which supported freedom fighters as a form of self-defense, Prado was at the forefront of the battle against communist insurgencies in Peru and the Philippines.
The Hunt for Bin Laden
In 1995, Prado’s assignment was to track a rising financier of terrorism named Osama bin Laden. He had never heard of bin Laden before, but he was well aware of a fellow CIA operative, Billy Wah, who had been surveilling him. Prado and Wah were responsible for capturing crucial surveillance photos of bin Laden while he was living in Khartoum, Sudan.
When asked if he could have taken out bin Laden, Prado doesn’t hesitate to answer. “If you’re close enough to take those kind of pictures, are you close enough to shoot them?” he says. “The answer is yes, we requested it many times.”
A Missed Opportunity
Unfortunately, the political will to capture bin Laden was not there at the time. Three years after the devastating attacks on September 11th, Prado retired from the CIA. He had proposed a plan to go after terrorists, but it was turned down. Frustrated, Prado reflects, “How do you justify a target being taken out by a drone, but they’re abhorred by the fact that you’re willing to put a bullet in the same single person’s head? That’s why I retired. My time had come.”
In hindsight, Prado believes that if the opportunity to capture bin Laden in Khartoum had been taken, history may have been different. He argues that the ability to interrogate bin Laden could have provided valuable intelligence, potentially preventing the 9/11 attacks. He concludes, “Chances are, 9/11 would not have happened.”
While Prado’s career as a shadow warrior may be over, his experiences serve as a testament to the dedication and sacrifice of those who work in the shadows to protect our way of life.