Born in October of 1974, Darren LaBonte grew up in Southwest Connecticut, where he attended Brookfield High School and excelled in football and baseball. According to his father; Darren turned down a shot at professional baseball with the Cleveland Indians and instead opted for the Army after graduating from high school.
He enlisted in 1992 and found himself in Fort Benning, GA attending the Ranger Indoctrination Program as a Mortarman. After successfully completing the program, he was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion out of Savannnah, GA. He stayed for two enlistments and ended up leaving the military in 2000 after eight honorable years of service.
Darren was newly married working as a police officer in Illinois when the terror attacks on September 11th occurred. Unable to sit on the sidelines, he decided to to continue serving his country and “make things right,” according to his father.
Between 2000 and 2006 Darren served as a police officer, a U.S. Marshal, and an F.B.I. Special Agent out of the New York field office, until he was recruited by the CIA in 2006 to serve initially as a Paramilitary Officer and then later as an Operations Officer/Case officer in Jordan. It was during this period of time that Darren graduated from Columbia College of Missouri, and subsequently received his Master’s degree in 2006 from Boston University, where he studied criminal justice.
Darren went on to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Amman, Jordan, his last posting before his death in Afghanistan. His work in a CIA field office in Jordan led Darren to Afghanistan. Darren and his friend and fellow operative, Al Shareef Ali bin Zeid, from Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID), were responsible for a Jordanian double agent within al-Qaeda.
It was the double agent who informed his handler Ali bin Zeid that he had information on the future whereabouts of AQ’s #2, al-Zawahiri. Darren, who was living in Amman at the time, got the call to come to Afghanistan immediately in order to meet with bin Zeid’s al-Qaeda informant. On December 17th, 2009 Darren left for Afghanistan, excited at the possibility of finally killing Ayman al-Zawahiri, but sad to skip a family family trip to Italy that they’d been planning.
On December 30th, 2009, at Camp Chapman in the Khost Province, the Jordanian double agent, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, detonated his suicide vest, immediately killing Darren, four fellow CIA officers, two U.S. security contractors, and his Jordanian friend and counterpart, Al Shareef Ali bin Zeid.
CIA Officer Darren LaBonte died a day before he was scheduled to leave Afghanistan and catch up with his wife, child, and parents in Tuscany, Italy.
CIA Officer Darren James LaBonte (October 1974 – December 2009)
Killed in Action December 30th, 2009 in Khost Province, Afghanistan at the age of 35