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Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent Paperback – January 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Thinking Like a Terrorist is riveting, informative and insightful. Only someone who ‘was a terrorist’ could achieve this as well as warn of dangers to our way of life. Mike German was one of the FBI’s foremost authorities on terrorism with experience gleaned from years of working undercover with various terrorist groups. This should be required reading for those interested in terrorism and how to combat this twenty-first-century plague.”Steve Salmieri, former chief, FBI Undercover Sensitive Operations Unit
(Steve Salmieri)

“Forces of evil—BEWARE—Mike German is on the street again! However, this time not as a deep-cover FBI ‘counterterrorist’ agent. This time he is arming us all with the hard lessons he learned, sharing vital insights, providing a critical analysis, and offering his unique perspective gained from having lived with, and personally defeated, terrorists. German’s brilliant and heroic strategy to overcome terrorism may surprise all but the true patriots among us. Thinking Like a Terrorist is a timely and superbly conceived book, written by a champion of justice, that everyone should read and take to heart.”Stephen R. Band, former chief, FBI Behavioral Science Unit
(Stephen R. Band)

“Essential reading for any interested in terrorism issues.”Midwest Book Review
(Midwest Book Review 2008-09-29)

Thinking Like a Terrorist is a mix of pragmatic insights gained via a stellar law enforcement career coupled with impressive scholarship. Mike German advances reasoned and convincing arguments that because we do not adequately know our enemies and understand their articulated and time-tested strategies, many of our current counterterrorist policies help facilitate the very terrorist gains we work to deny. More than five years after 9/11, this book should serve as a wake-up call for policy makers, national security bureaucracies, and concerned citizens.”John Cassara, former CIA case officer, U.S. Treasury special agent, and author of Hide and Seek: Intelligence, Law Enforcement, and the Stalled War on Terrorist Finance
(John Cassara)

“By infiltrating them as an FBI agent, Mike German learned firsthand how terrorist groups work, and he brought their members to justice without violating the law or the Constitution. He now lays bare the fundamental errors made by the U.S. government after 9/11, showing how it has exaggerated the nature of the terrorist threat, reduced the effectiveness of the West’s response, undermined our core ethical values, and so increased future vulnerability. Written with the clarity of an airport thriller and the insight conferred by both operational experience and deep study, Thinking Like a Terrorist is a brilliant and necessary book that we cannot afford to ignore.”David Rose, contributing editor, Vanity Fair, and author of Guantanamo: The War on Human Rights
(David Rose)

"In Thinking Like a Terrorist, Mr. German has provided not only a fascinating look into his infiltration of white supremacist groups in Los Angeles and Washington State, but also a scholarly and thoughtful discussion of terrorists in general. . . .Mr. German's command of history, of philosophy, of law, and his personal expertise in the workings of terrorism, make for an enjoyable and thought-provoking read."Judge Advocate General's Corp Magazine
(Judge Advocate General's Corp Magazine 2007-08-01)

From the Publisher

Written by a former FBI undercover agent and counterterrorism expert

Differentiates amont various types of terrorists to better evaluate solutions for stopping them

Includes case studies of different terrorist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Irish Republican Army, and al Qaeda --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597970263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597970266
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on February 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that needs to be read by anyone interested in the terrorist world in which the United States finds itself. The author is an ex-FBI agent who was assigned to join terrorists organizations in the US to report on their activities.

His analysis of the current situation is that our Government and particularily its intelligence agencies have not understood the way that terrorists think, what it is that they are really after, how they are really organized and much more.

I unfortunately don't know enough about the situation to know if everything he says is true. However, there are a few things that come through strongly.

1. Our government has clearly misunderstood what's been happening.

2. The terrorists are not stupid, and clearly believe in what they are doing.

3. We may be playing deliberately into their desired goals.

4. Going against the rules of our own constitution in terms of wiretaps, holding people without trial, ignoring the due process of law, torture, illegal prisons in foreign countries, in short the whole Patriot's Act will do us more harm than good. As Franklin is rumored to have said: 'Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.'
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Kent on September 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent
I am about three quarters through with the book and I can't say that this book is one that you can't put down, but I don't think it was written as a novel. I have enjoyed the book as an educational document. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to understand a little more of what is going on behind the scenes of today's terrorists; what motivates them to carry out their attacks and what philosophies they adhere to. Great Job
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gregory J. Casteel on October 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I plan to use this text in any future courses I teach on terrorism, political violence, or even political psychology, since this book really helps you understand how terrorists think. The author, a former FBI Special Agent, learned about terrorism first hand, by infiltrating terrorist groups in order to obtain evidence to prosecute their members for various criminal acts. In order to infiltrate these groups, he had to put himself into a position where terrorists could recruit him and indoctrinate him into their way of thinking. Once on the inside, he lived as one of them -- attending their meetings, working with them, socializing with them, learning about their plans and their methods, and helping them to prepare for their terrorist operations (but arresting them before they were able to carry out those operations, of course). In the course of his undercover operations, he gained unique insights into what motivates terrorists: how they view the world, what they hope to accomplish, why they feel that they must resort to violence, how they justify attacks against innocent civilians, etc. By essentially becoming a terrorist, and associating closely with actual terrorists, he learned far more about terrorism than scholars or intelligence analysts could ever hope to learn by studying terrorism from a distance.

And what he learned about terrorism from his first-hand experience flies in the face of much of the conventional wisdom on the subject, but makes far more sense than the conventional wisdom, if you really think about it. Moreover, his findings have important implications for how best to fight terrorism. If we don't understand what motivates terrorists and what they're trying to accomplish, we run the risk of playing right into their hands and giving them exactly what they want.
Read more ›
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Shepherd on February 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a fantastic thesis on the number one issue facing the United States today. A very well written book presenting a viewpoint that does not get played in mass media probably because it is not emotional or contentious enough for them. The points made are logical with plenty of history and real life experiences to back them up. After reading it I now need a five week conversation with the author to take his thoughts and run them through some scenarios to see how a terrorist would handle them. Hopefully, his next book will take his recommended strategy and discuss ways to execute it. Now that I know how a terrorist thinks I will analyze terrorist events with a new mindset.

Thank you Mike German.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Schroeder on September 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a very good book, but was not what I expected. The author was an undercover agent with the FBI and infiltrated the White Supremacist movement. I got the idea that basically terrorists are fascists. I thought that the definition of the term fascist was especially interesting.

The following ideas are the necessary ideas to being a fascist government:

1. A Cult of Tradition.
2. The rejection of modernism.
3. A compulsion to action for action's sake.
4. The inability to withstand analytical criticism.
5. An exploitation of the fear of difference.
6. An appeal to a frustrated middle class.
7. The obsession with a plot.
8. Humiliation at the wealth and force of the enemy, yet conviction the enemy can be defeated.
9. An acceptance of life as permanent warfare, for pacifism is considered trafficking with the enemy.
10. Popular elitism exhibiting contempt for the weak.
11. The possibility that everybody can become a hero.
12. A machismo ethic implying both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.
13. A selective populism that disdains parliamentary government.
14. U-Fascism speaks Newsspeak (a reference to Orwell's 1984.).

The author states that the methods that have worked in defeating terrorism have been to treat them as criminals. Bobby Sands and 9 others starved to death because the British quite treating them as political prisoners and started treating them like the "other criminals". Getting rid of Habeas Corpus and rounding up civilians didn't make them mad; in fact that was part of the plan. The author further states that the government should always follow the rule of law, mentioning that when torture has been used, it works to the advantage of the enemy. I picked this up at the Wichita Public Library.
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