ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Military veteran and former CIA officer Dan Caster is set to host the Veterans Outreach Center’s 20th anniversary of 9/11. The event is called “Operation We Remember”, and Caster sat down with News 8 Thursday to talk about this, and give his perspective on the US exit from Afghanistan; an area Caster spent a lot of time in doing undercover operations.
“I went in the Air Force right after high school. I basically grew up in a family where all males served,” says Caster.
Caster’s military career took him around the world working with intel systems on aircraft and air cargo. “I taught Saudis, North Yemen, Turks, Jordanians, Indonesians, Thais,” he says.
He later became a CIA operative. On the morning of 9/11, he was in California and turned on the TV just in time to see the twin towers fall.
“And my boss called me and said ‘get ready’. That’s all he said to me,” recalls Caster.
Caster says for almost 20 years, the events of 9/11 drove his life. “I did tour after tour after tour chasing the people that did it.”
He deployed to a number of locations, including Afghanistan, oftentimes changing identities. Where he served specifically is still classified. He served multiple tours in the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center. CTC is/was the nation’s spearhead against all foreign terrorists, especially al-Qaida.
“The vast majority was face to face with high-value targets as far as the top ten of al-Qaeda,” says Caster.
It mostly involved capturing them, and getting to know them afterward. Caster says pulling out of Afghanistan is long overdue.
“Any way we would have done this, it’s not going to be pretty,” he says referring to the recent string of images many of us have seen. He also says the State Department is in charge of much of the evacuation, and that department has been hammered by COVID in terms of preparedness.
He says old-school al-Qaeda is mostly gone. The Taliban he says are in for a rude awakening. “Sometimes it’s easier to take over Afghanistan than it is to govern it, and they will find that out.”
He says 9/11 was a very complex operation. For those worried about another Osama Bin Laden-type emerging from this chaos…”That kind of quality terrorist, or that kind of expertise, doesn’t exist right now.” He also said Bin Laden’s operation was well-funded and had serious financial backing.
For the VOC event he’s hosting to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Caster says he wants to honor the sacrifices made, and the service of so many overseas. Because of that, he says, “There isn’t another 9/11 around the corner. The bigger fear now is maybe a cyber attack.”
‘Operation We Remember’ is open to the public and will take place Friday, September 10th at the Blue Cross Arena and runs from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.