Before 9-11, I had no experience with the Middle East or the Arabic language. I was a mother of three and a municipal judge in a small town in Montana. But the terrorist attacks affected me deeply. I wondered how it could happen. What kind of people could carry out such an atrocity and why? I began to read vociferously about Islam, terrorism, extremist groups, and Islamist ideology. Some of the books satisfied; many did not.Much more at the Source
In November 2001, I saw a news report about how terrorists and their sympathizers communicated on websites and Internet message boards and how limited government agencies were in their ability to monitor these web communications. This news report showed me how extensively Al-Qaeda used the Internet to orchestrate 9-11 and how out of touch our intelligence agencies were regarding this Internet activity. Apparently, there were not procedures in place for tracking communications and activity on the Al-Qaeda websites and Internet forums at the time.
The Internet address named in the news report was "www.alneda.com." I wrote it down and proceeded to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I entered another world when I logged on to that site for the first time. I did not know Arabic, so I clicked away at random, looking at featured pictures depicting such things as dead bodies lying around in the aftermath of a car bombing and other atrocities.
Early in January 2002, I began taking an Arabic language course online for eight weeks from the Cairo-based Arab Academy, which, that autumn, I supplemented with an intensive Arabic course at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As I learned more Arabic, the jihadi websites opened for me. Certain individuals stood out for either their radicalism or the information that they sent. I followed and tracked these individuals and kept notebooks detailing each website and person of interest.
Gradually, as I put to use the knowledge and skills I was developing of the Arabic language, I started posting messages on Internet forums and message boards. However, it was not until I was able to find an Arabic language translator through an online translation service who was willing to assist me with constructing contextually accurate messages that I began to elicit responses from individuals at these Internet sites. As time went on, and through the process of trial and error, I eventually figured out what to say and how to say it to start the process of passing myself off as a jihadist sympathizer.
After the media picked up my identity at Anderson's Article 32 hearing in May 2004, I received numerous threats and, on December 5, 2004, someone stole my car out of my family's garage. It was later found wrecked two counties away from my home, riddled with bullet holes. As a result, I now have permanent security.
I have still continued my online sleuthing. After the Anderson case, I worked to capture members of an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Lebanon seeking to sneak chemical weapons into Iraq. Believing me to be a jihadist banker, group members said that they had already killed twenty-four British troops, wanted to attack U.S. soldiers with weapons of mass destruction, and needed money to buy the materials on the black market. Because of the hard work of a number of investigative bureaus in the United States and abroad, they never got the chance.
Rossmiller carried out her activities on her own time and at her own expense--while most of you were sleeping. Perhaps her story will be an inspiration to many who feel there is nothing they can do to combat the tide of terror sweeping the globe.