Thinking Like a Terrorist


Thinking Like a Terrorist

Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent

Mike German

252 pages


January 2008


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

As America’s global war on terrorism continues, statistics concerning terrorist attacks show a disturbing trend: from a twenty-one-year high in 2003, attacks tripled in 2004 and then doubled in 2005. And as the incidence of terrorist attacks increased, so has the number of terrorists. While the primary leaders of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and al Qaeda in Iraq remain at large, a 2006 Department of Defense study reportedly identified thirty new al Qaeda–affiliated terrorist groups that have been created since September 11, 2001.
We may not have metrics that measure our success in the war on terrorism, but these realities certainly illuminate our failures. In Thinking Like a Terrorist, former FBI counterterrorism agent Mike German contends that the overarching problem is a fundamental failure to understand the terrorists—namely, what they want and how they intend to get it. When our counterterrorism policies are driven by misunderstanding and misperception, we shouldn’t be surprised at the results.

​Today’s terrorists have a real plan—a blueprint that has brought them victory in the past—that they are executing to perfection; moreover, their plan is published and available to anyone who bothers to read it. Once the terrorists’ plan is understood, we can develop and implement more effective counterterrorism strategies. A former undercover agent who infiltrated neo-Nazi terrorist groups in the United States, German explains the terrorist’s point of view and discusses ways to counter the terrorism threat. Based on his unusual experience in the field, Thinking Like a Terrorist provides unique insights into why terrorism is such a persistent and difficult problem and why the U.S. approach to counterterrorism isn’t working.

Author Bio

Mike German left the FBI after blowing the whistle on the agency’s mishandling of a terrorism investigation. A former undercover agent and counterterrorism instructor at the FBI National Academy, he is currently a senior fellow at He lives in the Middle Atlantic region.


“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, philosophy, law, and his personal expertise in the workings of terrorism, make for an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.”—Judge Advocate General’s Corp Magazine

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

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

“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

“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

“Essential reading for any interested in terrorism issues.”Midwest Book Review

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