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“Rigby was homecoming queen in florida. Where she grew up back then she never imagined imagined that her winning smile would become one of her most disarming weapons in a of espionage. When the cia recruited me as an undercover agent. I began a secret life hiding the truth about my job from friends and family trusted with some of the nation s most sensitive tasks sent to the most dangerous places in the world working as a counterterrorism specialists to identify double agents and security threats running from rockets in the middle of war zones.
Told. I couldn t possibly succeed. Because i m a woman clinging to my faith to get me through her book is called breaking cover michelle rigby assad. My secret life of the cia and what he taught me and it s available wherever books are sold and here.
She is with us. It s good to see you thank you for being here. Thank you for having me pat. How does a former homecoming queen.
Why would cia what happened. Oh you know i never dreamed of being in the cia cuz. I didn t even know that was a real job. Yeah.
But i had a passion for foreign affairs and i was able to go abroad on mission trips as soon as i graduated high school and one little baby step after the other and i started developing an expertise on the arab world. And so eventually i got recruited out of georgetown university and will you speak arabic yes not fluently but alright you joined the cia how did you get into the cia. Yeah. So it s fascinating.
Because um. Before september 11th. Which is this when this occurred. It was hard to get into the us government as an arab expert.
Yeah and then september 12th of course they were scouring the united states for for people like my husband and myself that we had already just gotten into the agency gone through that very long a vetting process to get in which is extensive and then we were brought in as to be undercover counterterrorism officers well did you go to the farm and go through all that training there yes. Sir. Well you had to go through all that yes. Indeed have you learned weapons training and physical.
Yeah. So you have to take an entire year of tradecraft training to make sure that you can keep your information. Safe your source is safe and of course. You and your colleague.
Safe yeah carry out these clandestine operations well they sent you to egypt. Now when you got to egypt. You didn t tell people i am working for the cia. What did you say so i actually didn t go to egypt or the agency.
But all my studies were in egypt okay. Yes. Where did you go with the agency. I m allowed to say that i served in iraq and that s the only place.
I m allowed to actually acknowledge the rest of the locations. Our secret oh there s secret. They still don t want everybody to know about it indeed. But we spent a full 10 years in the region well you were in iraq and and what was your cover in iraq.
We basically i can t talk about coverage. Ok and if i do i d have to kill again. We don t want to do that no. But it was a very intense year in baghdad because it was 2006 to 2007.
As you recall that was a great surge. Yeah and so we were working very hard to try to say it to protect a rocky government and us government. Coalition forces and from being targeted by both terrorists. And insurgents.
There so it was it was a you know 12 13. 14. An hour day job yeah. Very exhausting you weren t exhausting it not exhausted.
But you were supposed to be a walking contradiction who what was that yes. It s fascinating when that cia is looking to hire people they re looking for people who are honest. Yet you are being asked to go out and tell a lie by having a cover this is one thing when you re doing another. Okay you re they want people who love their country.
But you re essentially being asked to move abroad and leave everything behind yeah. Family friends or country and so they re looking for these people with these great contradiction. Yeah. Yeah.
Well your husband. What s his expertise. Oh joseph is really fascinating. He is a christian from egypt.
Who came to the united states to get his college education. When he was denied that education for his christian activities in egypt egypt but now of course he speaks arabic fluently he s a native arabic speaker and what s so fascinating about his background is he from he s from a part of egypt from which the the roots of terrorist ideology come from so he grew up with you know kids in high school whose parents were cell members and gamma aslam ayah. The precursor to al qaeda. So he was so familiar with this ideology and really you know suffered as a minority in that part of the world.
But knew exactly what he was dealing with yeah. Again i i don t to impose on secret stuff. But you were tasked with with recruiting agents or whatever you call them spies in the midst of it be the year tell us about that it s such a fascinating process. Because what you re doing is you re trying to croute someone who thinks you re the enemy.
Yeah. And you re that you re an american you re cia. You are an intelligence officer. So and you re an infidel so how do you get these penetrations of terrorist groups to partner with you and they re risking their lives to do it yeah to give you the insider information you need to stop terrorist attacks from occurring.
So you have this huge bridge that you ve got to get across in order to make this connection with this guy who s a very unwholesome individual. Okay and so getting being able to make that connection is a very interesting process because you ve got to establish some modicum of trust you have to establish your bona fides. And as a woman. You have an extra added challenge of getting them past the gender issue whoa emotional intelligence.
Yeah yes so it s being able to understand where that person is coming from okay. So i had to understand his ideology his worldview. His ideas of women and i had to challenge them directly and so i had to show these in these guys these insurgents that i was i m intelligent. I understand you and your culture and then once i once i had these conversations with them i was recruiting them to be my partner he didn t know you would see a whoa so they did at that point they knew every ci.
He did know you cia yes. So he knew you were recruiting him yes. Yes. He knew that we they knew they were being pissed or they knew they were being they were talking to the cia at that point what was the come on what would bring him in from what he s doing to working with us that is such a good question.
A lot of them just want money they get paid because it s a war zone. It s a non functioning economy. Some of them no longer buy into the ideology. Anymore okay.
I ve had it i don t i don t believe this some of them are in it because they want to be they want to off their competition. Oh and they want to become the big terrorist. But they pretend like they re doing good so they have a variety of motivations that that that bring them in to work with the cia and i always say i don t care. What the motivation is but i have to know what it is because then i have to work that you had to be sympathetic.
To i mean you had to understand their ideology. Yes yeah. Yeah see them as human beings. Yeah.
Because if i don t fundamentally understand you as a human being i m not gonna be able to make that connection who did you get can you talk about who your client was or your target. Um bad guys okay. So you got a bad guy. And then he turned and he was working for us yeah.
So it s fascinating. Because what they re doing is they re saying look. My group is planning a b and c. We re planning to carry out a car bomb attack or were we re here s our the location of our safe house.
Where we keep our our weapons. And so they would give you this information then we would package disseminate it to the intelligence community and that would enable our special forces brethren to action. There s targets. So you actually i mean was the only ones that you did that or many many time constantly constant.
And what s so fascinating about working in a war zone is everything is kind of it s like on speed it goes so quickly and so car bomb one hour next hour. It s a iied buried in the road and then two hours later you re dealing with the safe house location comes just constant. And it s fascinating and these guys would tell you all of these things i mean there s an id. It did checkpoints on site.
And but you have to be so careful. Because you also don t want to release information. That s going to put them in danger true. Because if they re identified as the source of the information.
They ll be killed so they have to trust you that you know how to handle their information. Securely and you re not going to get them killed they were turned off by the ideology or the brutality of the terrorism. Sometimes they were some of the guys and some still bought into the terrorist ideology was anything noble above what they thought a few of them had really noble motivations. There were a couple that we worked with it said.
I ve been a terrorist for years. Yeah. I ve been blowing people up and killing others and i feel so empty inside. And i don t like this feeling.
And i realize i ve been used by this terrorist organization and i m not doing it anymore. I was able to share the christian faith or than hitler did you try that that would virtually no we weren t in a position to be able to do that yeah you just hope that your interaction with someone who s assuming you re a christian is going to be planting some seeds. Well what did you finally do that oh we were exhausted you were you so this is 10 years being abroad not getting to see your family. Very often you re missing out on life you re working holidays weekends constantly.
And so you can only do that for so long. Before your birth now just exhausted. Yeah we were we were exhausted plus. I heard the call of god to write this book.
Okay and to share our story to inspire other theaters. Vetted through the cia of course indeed just a few things. But it s amazing. What they actually let you say oh good yeah.
They ll they allowed me to really open up. This. The secret world for people to see what it s like on a daily basis to be a counterterrorism officer. How s the book going is it successful fabulous yeah.
And it s so exciting to watch because after being undercover. We ve had in there social media. Yeah i had no social platform and i was kind of an unknown so for the book to come out and do so well. It s a huge blessing.
Always appreciate you writing it and being here breaking cover. There s one movie called breaking bad. This is breaking cover. It s available.
Wherever books are sold and thank you so much you heard it. Here ladies and gentlemen. A cia undercover operative for ten years in the middle east in the midst of the ” ..
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