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After 9/11, when the nation was still in shock over the unprecedented attack on U.S. soil, Shannen Rossmiller – a mother of three in rural Montana and municipal court judge – was formulating a plan. Soon she was devouring literature on Islamic culture, teaching herself Arabic, and preparing to infiltrate the central nervous system of global terror: online networks. Her efforts succeeded beyond imagination. Posing as an Islamic terrorist under dozens of screen aliases, she joined forces with the FBI and started trolling jihadist chat rooms, striking up conversations at 3 a.m. with men as far away as Pakistan, and amassing evidence against an array of suspected terrorists both at home and abroad. Her work laid the foundation for the online searches so crucial to law enforcement’s fight against terror today.
Rossmiller’s husband, Randy, uncovered her double life after a chat room terrorist wiped out the family computer and reports rolled in that the Rossmillers were being targeted for reprisal. Undeterred, she started working with the FBI on sting operations, involving everything from jihadist cells to weapons caches to bomb plots, and bringing many of her targets to justice, as well as pioneering the digital entrapment tactics that are at the forefront of today’s war on terror. Her work has led to the founding a new field of espionage known as cyber-counterintelligence, and she continues to work closely with the FBI to find and prosecute terrorists.
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John Edward Hilboldt
Director, Lectures & Seminars