Montana Woman Snares
Municipal Judge and Mother-of-Three Shannen Rossmiller Takes on the Bad Guys
By David S. Lewis
By day, Shannen Rossmiller serves as a municipal judge in Conrad, Montana. By night this mother of three and former cheerleader tracks down al-Qa'eda members as a self taught undercover operative.
On June 26, Francis Harris with the U.K's online Daily Telegraph reported that his publication had reviewed “a summary of case histories and transcripts…revealing that [Rossmiller] has uncovered the whereabouts of al-Qa'eda fighters in the lawless highlands of Pakistan, shopped groups of would-be terrorists from Liverpool to Lebanon, tracked down an Islamist designing a nuclear device and much, much more.”
After 9/11, Rossmiller took matters into her own hands. While laid up with a broken hip, and possibly with the help of her husband, a computer technician, she became an online spy. Using pseudonyms, special software, and a working knowledge of Arabic, she found her way to the chat rooms terrorists and other fanatics use to communicate with each other.
"It was a process that evolved for me...the curiosity of looking around on the Internet for jihadi, Islamist extremist individuals," she told ABC News. "It's evolved now into something that is my own playbook on how to do this, and it worked."
"I didn't want my family to know because they'd call me crazy," she told the Telegraph's Francis Harris, “and this was just too damn interesting,
Apparently Rossmiller was convincing with her high stakes deceptions. An e-mail she read recently on ABC's Good Morning America stated: "Your skills in nuclear physics are valuable to my group. …If the leaders approve of your membership, our sheik will be able to help with finances for your work."
Indeed, Rossmiller is no slouch in the eyes of professionals and has been useful to the FBI, the Telegraph reported, “which now supplies her with handlers, Arabic translators and security, in case the terrorists seek revenge.”
In the United States, and apparently elsewhere, authorities have arrested various suspects as a result of Rossmiller's efforts. Court records show that Rossmiller helped bring about the conviction and life sentence of Private Ryan Anderson for attempting to give to al-Qa'eda information revealing the vulnerabilities of Humvees and the M1 Abrams tank. It was through that case that her identity and work were revealed, blowing her cover, even though she was assured that she would remain anonymous.
“On many occasions,” the Telegraph reported, “she has encountered terrorists overseas. Three times she has lured young British Islamists into unmasking themselves, including one group in Liverpool.”
When asked about any possible danger that may result from her work, Rossmiller responded that it would be hard for strangers to act without being noticed in small town Montana, and that most Montanans own guns.
The Telegraph reported that the FBI will not comment on the matter, but that “intelligence staffers have confirmed her as an authentic operative.”
"I kill off certain identities,” the Telegraph reported Rossmiller as saying, “make them martyrs, so [the radicals] think 'so-and-so is dead'. When I've had an idea that's worked well for some time but things are getting fishy, I'll move him into Ramadi or Basra and have him martyred."
When asked if she had any plans of getting out of the spy game, she told the Telegraph: "I've tried a couple of times to back off, but it just hasn't been the right time...humanity is such a precious thing that you don't want to see [terrorist attacks] happen to anybody, to any country, any people."