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Mother of 3 hunts terrorists at night
Houston Chronicle ^ | July 12, 2004 | EVAN MOORE

Posted on 07/12/2004 6:58:06 AM PDT by Dog Gone

Montana judge, 6 others use Web to snare suspects

CONRAD, MONT. - By day, she’s the municipal judge of this tiny town, a wife and mother of three, but by moonlight Shannen Rossmiller is a spy.

Then, Rossmiller — petite, blond and 34 — assumes one of several unlikely false identities, all angry, violent, Muslim men, nurturing hatred of the United States. In that guise, she combs the Internet through the late evening and early morning and sifts through the messages and declarations on extremist Islamic Web sites.

During those hours, Rossmiller is on a quest that consumes hours of each day, days of each week. It’s one that will place her on the stand Thursday as the government’s primary witness against a National Guardsman accused of offering information to help Muslim extremists kill U.S. troops.

It’s a quest that has already placed her in danger.

Rossmiller works with an exclusive group, a coalition of seven civilians, international "cyber spies" who chase terrorists on the Internet.

They call themselves the "7-Seas."

Until recently they were a largely unknown, almost clandestine bunch. Named for its global scope, the group consists of Rossmiller; a nuclear physicist/software designer in Canada; a corporate security consultant in Houston; a former private detective in Singapore; an Australian; and two other Americans.

They might have remained unknown. That is, if some of Rossmiller’s efforts hadn’t paid off, if she hadn’t run across Ryan Anderson, a National Guardsman accused of attempting to defect to al-Qaida and offering information on troop strength and vulnerable points on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Rossmiller never planned to be a witness. But then, she’d never planned to become a spy. She had grown up, married and pursued her career in the little town of 2,750.

Broke pelvis on 9/11

It’s a quiet community, in the northwestern quadrant of Montana in the shadow of Glacier National Park, home to wheat farmers, ranchers and a group of Hutterites, a traditional Christian sect related to the Amish.

There, Rossmiller was perfectly happy as municipal judge and might have remained so if she hadn’t broken her pelvis.

"It happened on the evening of 9/11," said Rossmiller. "We’d put in a new shower, I was just stepping into it and there I went. I was incapacitated for the next six weeks and all I heard was the news.

"I couldn’t avoid it, and I couldn’t help but feel that I had to do something."

Her first thought was to join the National Guard, a plan her husband, emphatically opposed. Rossmiller, however, describes herself as passionate in all her pursuits, and it wasn’t long before she found a new avenue.

"I began fishing around on the Internet and I found these groups," she said.

The "groups" included both the violent fringe of Islamic extremists and those who tracked them. Soon, Rossmiller was conversing with Brent Astley, the Canadian member, and others in the 7-Seas, and found herself drawn into their efforts.

"We’re not a bunch of alarmists, and we’re not politically motivated," said Dave, the Houston member who agreed to speak if not identified. "We’re probably the only group of our kind. Most of us have never met the others in person, but we’re all joined by the desire to stop terrorism in any form.

"I guess we’re like a parody of a spy novel, but we’re real."

Rossmiller’s role, however, was circumventing reality. Once she joined 7-Seas, she began creating various personae of violent, Islamic men.

"I’d never be taken seriously at those Web sites as a woman," she said.

Paying attention to detail

The ruse requires careful preparation. Rossmiller, with her husband’s help, creates false "proxies" to indicate her e-mails originated from the Middle East. She uses a commercial translation tool to decipher messages and to change her text to Arabic. She studies the Koran and searches out actual addresses and names of Mosques and clerics to refer to. She keeps a world clock and makes sure she never sends a message during the hours she would be praying.

An early riser, she makes most of her communications between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., when it is afternoon in the Middle East.

Her efforts soon paid off. Within a few months of searching, she began communicating with a person who claimed to be an arms dealer. She calls him "Rocket Man."

"This character said he had missiles and missile parts for sale," said Rossmiller. "I went about it pretty slowly, said I didn’t believe him.

"I really didn’t believe it when he sent me a picture of himself and his address."

Rossmiller turned the dealer in to the FBI. She’s never learned what was done with the information.

Then, last October, she came across a man who called himself "Amir Abdul Rashid, a brother fighting on the wrong side." In reality, "Rashid" allegedly was Anderson, a 26-year-old tank driver with the 81st Armor Brigade at Fort Lewis.

Rossmiller will not discuss her upcoming testimony in Anderson’s court-martial. Her testimony in the May hearing, however, made it clear that she had extensive communication with the guardsman.

"This is like a second job for all of us," she said. "I probably devote as much time to it as I do to being a judge."

After exchanging 27 e-mails with "Rashid," Rossmiller called the FBI. Undercover agents then met with Anderson in a secretly videotaped session, during which he designated vulnerable points on a tank and offered other information.

Rossmiller netted an arrest.

"Shannen’s the only member of the group who makes contact with terrorists," said Astley, the longest tenured of the 7-Seas.

"I guess we could be likened to a militia and have been. For the most part we visit terrorist Web sites. We analyze the data and we try to inform the appropriate authorities.

"But the word ’militia’ has some unpleasant connotations. We believe in what we’re doing and we try to bring terrorists to justice, but we’re not vigilantes. ... "

Often, said Astley, the group has no idea what is done with the warnings they pass on to authorities.

Her identity aired in court

The organization also has been obscure. Few among government agencies will acknowledge their existence, and few among the intelligence community are aware of them.

Within the latter group however, 7-Seas has drawn some small praise.

"We applaud their efforts, what little we know of them," said Elizabeth Bancroft, executive director of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers in Washington, D.C.

That service has a price, however. When Rossmiller was called to testify in Anderson’s preliminary hearing in May, her identity and her membership in 7-Seas were revealed. Days after she appeared in court, phone threats were called in to Rossmiller’s office in Conrad, and she has been under police protection since.

The experience was sobering for Rossmiller and other members of her group.

"I think about it, but I don’t worry about it constantly. One of the good things about living in a town the size of Conrad is that it would be pretty difficult for a stranger to be here for any length of time and not be noticed."


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Montana; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: ccrm; counterterrorism; rossmiller; shannenrossmiller; spy

1 posted on 07/12/2004 6:58:06 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone

Wow! A patriotic judge who doesn't just collect a check and play golf.Outstanding!


2 posted on 07/12/2004 7:00:43 AM PDT by novacation
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To: Dog Gone

WOW!


3 posted on 07/12/2004 7:02:08 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer
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To: Dog Gone

Courageous woman.

I'm finding myself torn--it's great to read about her, but I wish she were still anonymous....


4 posted on 07/12/2004 7:03:18 AM PDT by Judith Anne (Just another Bush-bot biddy drinking that Republican KoolAid.)
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To: Dog Gone
If she wasn't in danger before, she sure is now.

What real purpose does this article serve beyond warning the terrorists and identifying a target for them?
5 posted on 07/12/2004 7:03:42 AM PDT by sharktrager (Help Laura beat Tuh-Ray-Za http://scoreboards.hotornot.com/2004electionwives)
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To: RadioAstronomer


The best thing about this technique is that it has some salutary effects even if you do it badly. If you get caught out now and again, you're still inciting paranoia and making it more difficult for the enemy to use communications tools as effectively as they would otherwise.


6 posted on 07/12/2004 7:07:14 AM PDT by HarryCaul
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To: Dog Gone

Someone please remind me to never tell the press anything...

If anything happens to this lady, or her family, we need to do something.


7 posted on 07/12/2004 7:07:25 AM PDT by RandallFlagg (<a href="http://www.michaelmoore.com" target="_blank">Hatriotism)
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To: Dog Gone

Wow. If only more Americans were like her!


8 posted on 07/12/2004 7:08:30 AM PDT by Barney Gumble ("There are three types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics." -- Mark Twain)
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To: Letitring
Letitring Ping

So9

9 posted on 07/12/2004 7:10:05 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Goldwater Republican)
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To: Dog Gone
"But the word ’militia’ has some unpleasant connotations.

How about Minutemen and Minutewomen, similar to the patriots of old. Good to see that others outside of the country see the threat as well.

10 posted on 07/12/2004 7:10:32 AM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Barney Gumble

If more Americans were like her, we'd have constant civilain video surveillance of every mosque in the country, 24/7.


11 posted on 07/12/2004 7:11:49 AM PDT by JimRed (Fight election fraud! Volunteer as a local poll watcher, challenger or district official.)
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To: Judith Anne
it's great to read about her, but I wish she were still anonymous....

Ditto that. Kudos to a brave American hero, and SHAME on that odious National Guardsman Anderson who swore an oath to protect and defend his country. Court-martialing is too good for his sorry butt.

12 posted on 07/12/2004 7:12:37 AM PDT by shezza
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To: sharktrager

It's public record since she must appear to testify against Anderson. There's no sense in censoring information already known to an enemy.


13 posted on 07/12/2004 7:13:12 AM PDT by RBroadfoot
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To: Judith Anne

but I wish she were still anonymous....

Agree!


14 posted on 07/12/2004 7:15:01 AM PDT by Valin (Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It's just that yours is stupid.)
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To: Dog Gone

I hope she can stay safe.


15 posted on 07/12/2004 7:15:39 AM PDT by R. Scott (Humanity i love you because when you're hard up you pawn your Intelligence to buy a drink.)
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To: Judith Anne
Her cover was blown when she was called as a witness, so I guess she felt she didn't have anything to lose by talking to the press.

I'm glad she now has police protection. Unfortunately, she may need it.

16 posted on 07/12/2004 7:16:03 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: RBroadfoot
There is a difference between public record and publicity. There is a huge reason not to promote the knowledge to marginal groups who didn't have it.
17 posted on 07/12/2004 7:18:05 AM PDT by sharktrager (Help Laura beat Tuh-Ray-Za http://scoreboards.hotornot.com/2004electionwives)
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To: Dog Gone

BUMP!


18 posted on 07/12/2004 7:22:13 AM PDT by O.C. - Old Cracker (When the cracker gets old, you wind up with Old Cracker. - O.C.)
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To: JimRed

shhhhhhhh.....


19 posted on 07/12/2004 7:22:35 AM PDT by Judith Anne (Just another Bush-bot biddy drinking that Republican KoolAid.)
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To: shezza

Cut his head off.


20 posted on 07/12/2004 7:23:00 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (STAGMIRE !)
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To: sharktrager

I'm particularly annoyed that knowledge about others in the group made it into the paper.

Really annoyed.


21 posted on 07/12/2004 7:23:38 AM PDT by Judith Anne (Just another Bush-bot biddy drinking that Republican KoolAid.)
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To: sharktrager

She was "outed" some time ago. I was even able to email her some words of support.


22 posted on 07/12/2004 7:33:30 AM PDT by Bahbah
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To: Dog Gone
"But the word ’militia’ has some unpleasant connotations

The reason the word militia has an 'unpleasant connotation' is because emotionally loaded 'poison buzzwords' are a favorite tactic of the "Anti 2nd Ammendment" people and their media..

They promote the idea that a 'well regulated militia' is something other than what the Constitution says it is..or what American history says 'the militia' was...

The anti Constitution anti freedom commie moles.. have decided to define who the 2nd ammendment applies to....and it isnt 'we the people' btw...at least in their lexicon....

This 'terrorist' Ryan is a complete moron...he was posting quite a bit on busy gun forum for a year or so and was always sympathetic to the muslims and rabidly anti American...he was especially anti Christian and anti Israel... He is punk and so was so open I can believe he wasnt a suspect all along..he also stated that he had just joined the guards.....I dont believe he was competent enough to be a 'real terrorist'..let alone allowed to 'drive' a tank (a tank of a hand held weed sprayer maybe) He is was a wannabe muslim terrorists...a type of 'Taliban' Johnnie ...only about half as bright imo

23 posted on 07/12/2004 7:44:45 AM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
(rolling eyes at your comment...)

Chances are he'll get a "tsk-tsk" from the bench, busted a rank or two, and/or dishonorably discharged. I'd prefer jail time for the traitor. I guess we'll see soon enough.

24 posted on 07/12/2004 7:46:31 AM PDT by shezza
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To: shezza

He wants an Islamic life. Give it to him.


25 posted on 07/12/2004 7:52:18 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (STAGMIRE !)
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To: Dog Gone

Sounds like made for tv movie material. What a great group of patriots, wonder how they got together and if they are expanding membership?


26 posted on 07/12/2004 8:07:24 AM PDT by MissAmericanPie
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To: sharktrager
What real purpose does this article serve beyond warning the terrorists and identifying a target for them?

Tells the terrorists that for every one they i8dentify, there's more hiding in the background. They have been compromised.

27 posted on 07/12/2004 9:25:43 AM PDT by uglybiker (I misspell ekxentric on purpose just to be different)
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To: Dog Gone
From Chronically Biased Today's Chronicle has a story about a Montana woman who is a mom, wife, judge, and cyberspy, searching the internet to root out terrorists.

Rossmiller — petite, blond and 34 — assumes one of several unlikely false identities, all angry, violent, Muslim men, nurturing hatred of the United States. In that guise, she combs the Internet through the late evening and early morning and sifts through the messages and declarations on extremist Islamic Web sites.

During those hours, Rossmiller is on a quest that consumes hours of each day, days of each week. It’s one that will place her on the stand Thursday as the government’s primary witness against a National Guardsman accused of offering information to help Muslim extremists kill U.S. troops.

It’s a quest that has already placed her in danger.

Rossmiller works with an exclusive group, a coalition of seven civilians, international "cyber spies" who chase terrorists on the Internet.

Columnist Michelle Malkin has some questions on her blog about why this brave woman's cover has been blown, first by the courts, and second by the Chronicle. To be fair to the Chronicle, this is not the first time Rossmiller's story has been told.

There are also a couple of updates at the end of Malkin's blog post, including some thoughts from Andrew McCarthy, a former chief assistant US attorney. He places the blame on our "generous due process standards."

28 posted on 07/12/2004 11:20:27 PM PDT by weegee (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. ~~Ronald Reagan)
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To: Dog Gone

From the Michelle Malkin blog (I advise that those who are interested, read her whole article http://michellemalkin.com/archives/000179.htm )

Okay, here are my questions: This woman and her colleagues are amazing patriots. But why wasn't her identity concealed in court? And why did the Chronicle decide to endanger her even further? As much as I was glad to read the story, it seems to me that the publicity may deter other citizens from undertaking similar efforts--the opposite of what the government would want. Or maybe not...


29 posted on 07/12/2004 11:21:43 PM PDT by weegee (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. ~~Ronald Reagan)
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To: Shermy

Thought you might be interested...

PING


30 posted on 07/12/2004 11:22:12 PM PDT by weegee (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. ~~Ronald Reagan)
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Aggie Mama; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; ...

Houston PING courtesy of the Comical


31 posted on 07/12/2004 11:23:45 PM PDT by weegee (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. ~~Ronald Reagan)
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To: Timesink; *CCRM; martin_fierro; reformed_democrat; Loyalist; =Intervention=; PianoMan; GOPJ; ...
Media Schadenfreude and Media Shenanigans PING

Outing a Homeland Hero.

32 posted on 07/12/2004 11:24:50 PM PDT by weegee (Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them. ~~Ronald Reagan)
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To: weegee
But why wasn't her identity concealed in court?

We only protect the identities of women who have been allegedly raped, and minors who are not being charged as adults. Everyone else gets outed.

It doesn't seem right to me.

33 posted on 07/13/2004 5:57:49 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone

A real life "Mary Pat" (ref. Tom Clancy novels). A real "cowgirl."


34 posted on 07/13/2004 10:37:02 AM PDT by anymouse
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