Monday, October 29, 2007

Shannen Rossmiller befriends and betrays online jihadists -- while she gets her kids ready for school

Shannen Rossmiller grew up on a Montana wheat farm. She is blond and slim: When she was a cheerleader in high school, she typically wound up at the top of the human pyramid. Her husband runs a wireless Internet company, and they have three children. After college, she was appointed a local judge in a small Montana town, where she and her family still live and which she'd rather not identify. Although she's happy to talk about what she does, she fears for her safety: She has received phone threats, and her car got shot up once, an incident she attributes directly to her counterterrorism work.

Now 38, Rossmiller spends her weekdays in Helena working in the civil litigation department of the attorney general's office. She gets up at 4 am and does her hunting predawn. On the weekends, she tracks down killers while relaxing in the bosom of her family. Some days she's at the computer when her kids — two young daughters and a son who graduated from high school earlier this year — wake up. "I'll say, ‘You get your own breakfast; there's a Jimmy Dean sausage in the kitchen.' Meanwhile, back in Kurachi... "

[snip]

Rossmiller developed her remarkable talent for chatting up terrorists after September 11, when she started going into online forums and cajoling valuable information from other visitors. She has passed along numerous case files to federal authorities. Her information has led US forces abroad to locate Taliban cells in Afghanistan, discover a renegade stinger-missile merchant in Pakistan, and help another foreign government identify a ring of potential suicide bombers. She has also assisted in nabbing two domestic would-be terrorists and seen them both convicted of felonies: National guardsman Ryan Anderson received five concurrent life sentences, and Michael Reynolds, convicted in July and awaiting sentencing, faces a similar fate. Timothy Fuhrman, special agent in charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City office, says Rossmiller was "instrumental in the successful outcome of those cases."

Read the whole thing here.

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