Mike German, FBI Undercover, Thinking Like a Terrorist
Smithsonian Associates, Interview Series
Mike German served sixteen years as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations. His undercover work against white supremacist skinhead groups, and right-wing militias, disrupted planned acts of terrorism and led to multiple criminal convictions. He served as a counterterrorism instructor at the FBI National Academy before leaving the FBI in June of 2004.
German lectures frequently on counterterrorism and intelligence matters, and his commentary has appeared in the National Law Journal, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Miami Herald. German is a contributor to the conference report “Law vs. War: Competing Approaches to Fighting Terrorism,” published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. Now living in the Mid-Atlantic region, he is a private consultant, an adjunct professor at the National Defense University, and a Senior Fellow with Globalsecurity.org.
To survive undercover as an FBI agent, it is not enough to simply dress like a terrorist or act like a white supremacist, you have to think like them. Mike German, a former FBI agent, did just that by figuring out what makes terrorists tick, infiltrating their ranks, learning what they want and how they plan to achieve it, and winning their trust. It was a harrowing ride, but in the end he exposed their criminal activity without losing his life. In fact, he was able to write a book about his experience, Thinking Like a Terrorist, and his story inspired the recent movie, Imperium.
Mike German is our guest today on The Not Old Better Show, and German shares the hard lessons he learned as an undercover agent with a clear-eyed assessment of the threats we may or may not face, how to fight them, and how to preserve our core values in the process. German is a fellow with the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.
My thanks to the ADL and their excellent report on “Music and the Sounds of Hate,” including the song, “Rock Against Communism.”
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