More vids in link The Iraqi Spy Who Infiltrated ISIS Image Capt. Harith al-Sudani’s wife, Raghad Chaloob, center, and their three children, Riyam, Rawan and Muamal, atop their home in Baghdad.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times BAGHDAD — The driver was sweating as his white Kia pickup truck sped along a rain-slicked Baghdad highway toward a neighborhood bustling with open-air markets. With every jolt and turn, his pulse quickened. Hidden in the truck’s chassis was 1,100 pounds of military-grade explosives that the Islamic State planned to use in an audacious attack on New Year’s Eve shoppers in the Iraqi capital. A reckless driver on Iraq’s notoriously chaotic roads might clip him, accidentally setting off the bomb. A clash at one of Baghdad’s frequent checkpoints could escalate into gunfire, potentially igniting one hellish fireball. If the half-ton of C-4 plastic explosive riding alongside him didn’t kill him, the Islamic State might. Before he left on this, his penultimate mission, he sent his father a text. “Pray for me,” he said. Listening to the Enemy arrest of five senior Islamic State members who had been hiding in Turkey and Syria. Iraqi officials say the Falcons have foiled hundreds of attacks on Baghdad, making the capital the safest it has been in 15 years. American military officials consider the agency as good as they get among non-Western spy services. “It has proved to be an extremely valuable unit,” said Col. Sean J. Ryan, a spokesman for the American-led military coalition in Baghdad. The Falcons, he said, have diminished the threat of the Islamic State by infiltrating its cells, killing its leaders and terrorists, and destroying its weapons. to carry out more and bigger terrorist attacks, loudly declaring its continued relevance by inspiring mayhem around the world. On Dec. 19, the group sent a tractor-trailer careening through a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding dozens. On Dec. 31, the Mosul commander told Captain Sudani he had been chosen to take part in a spectacular New Year’s Eve attack, a series of coordinated bombings in multiple cities around the world. Captain Sudani picked up the white Kia in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Al Khadra. As usual, he phoned the Falcons to discuss where they would intercept him. Coming Undone Image Munther al-Sudani, Captain Sudani’s youngest brother, had a tattoo of his brother inked across his chest.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times The plan began to unravel as soon as he veered off the city’s main crosstown highway toward the Falcons’ safe house. His phone rang. It was Mosul, asking his location. Captain Sudani assured the caller that he was en route to the target. The handler said he was lying. Captain Sudani frantically struggled to invent an excuse. He told Mosul that he must have made a wrong turn. Spooked, he called his Falcons teammates, telling them they needed a rendezvous much closer to the planned attack site. He turned the truck-bomb back on the road to Baghdad al Jdeidah. Munaf, who was part of the chase team, used hand signals to direct his brother to the new meeting point. Eight agents dismantled the bomb. They removed the electronic detonator, 26 plastic bags of C4, ammonium nitrate and ball bearings from the chassis and door panels of the vehicle. In minutes, Captain Sudani was back on the road to the market and parking the pickup at its intended location. Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Arabic media, citing Iraqi security officials, reported a white truck had exploded outside Al Bayda Cinema in Baghdad al Jdeidah, causing no casualties. Captain Sudani’s mission was a success. What he didn’t know was that the Islamic State had planted two bugs in the truck, allowing the extremists to hear his entire conversation with the Falcons. “He felt that he was under suspicion,” General Falih said later. “We just didn’t realize how much.” The Setup Image Iraqi border guard troops patrol the Syrian border near Qaim this year. Captain Sudani may have spent his final days there.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times In early January 2017, the Islamic State called Captain Sudani for another mission. It would be his last. He was sent to a new location, a farmhouse outside Tarmiya. It was too remote to monitor and had no easy escape route. Munaf told him not to risk it, saying the change of procedure was suspicious. Capt. Sudani decided to go. “Looking back, I can’t believe that he trusted them,” Munaf said. “I think he was blinded by a need to make us proud.” On the morning of Jan. 17, he entered the farmhouse. Just after sunset, the Falcons team alerted General Falih that something was wrong. Munaf called their usually stern father, who broke down. “I had never seen him cry before,” Munaf said. “He kept pleading with me to save his son, but there was nothing I could do.” Because Tarmiya was an Islamic State stronghold, it took three days for Iraq’s security forces to plan and mount a rescue operation. A combined army and police force raided the farmhouse. One Iraqi officer was killed. When the building was cleared, there was no sign of Captain Sudani. For six months, the Falcons gathered evidence. They discovered the bugs in the Kia truck. Informers suggested that the jihadists had taken Captain Sudani to Qaim, an Iraqi town controlled by the Islamic State and beyond the government’s reach. In August, the Islamic State released a propaganda video showing militants executing blindfolded prisoners. The Falcons were certain that Captain Sudani was one of them. “I grew up with him, shared a bedroom with him,” Munaf said. “I don’t need to see his face to know my brother.” ‘A Wound on My Heart’ Image Posters outside the Sudani family home in Baghdad feature larger-than-life photos of Captain Sudani and poems of mourning written by his father.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times In death, Captain Sudani has achieved a level of fame unusual in the shadow world of spies. Iraq’s joint operations command issued a statement about his sacrifice for the nation. The Falcons published an ode to his bravery. On the rutted, dirt road in front of his father’s house, a pair of giant posters lauding the hero-son adorn the courtyard wall. A portrait of him is tattooed across Munther’s chest. But the Sudani family is still struggling to get what they consider proper respect. Because they do not have a body, they have been unable to obtain a death certificate, a prerequisite to receive benefits due to fallen servicemen. “I have a wound on my heart,” said the father, Abid Al-Sudani. “He lived and died for his country. The nation should cherish him the way I do.” For the Falcons, Captain Sudani’s successes helped it win bigger budgets, a wider appreciation among allies and better training for its men. The Americans and the Russians are now helping it penetrate the Islamic State, Iraqi intelligence officials say. The town of Qaim was taken by Iraqi security forces last November. The Falcons sent a team to try to recover Capt. Sudani’s corpse. They never found it.