CIA’s Counterterror Chief a Muslim Convert

A profile of the chief of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.

Interesting WaPo profile (“At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt“) of the most dangerous, unknown man in Washington:

The man with the nicotine habit is in his late 50s, with stubble on his face and the dark-suited wardrobe of an undertaker. As chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center for the past six years, he has functioned in a funereal capacity for al-Qaeda.

Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, may be the most consequential but least visible national security official in Washington — the principal architect of the CIA’s drone campaign and the leader of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In many ways, he has also been the driving force of the Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killing as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism efforts.

Colleagues describe Roger as a collection of contradictions. A chain-smoker who spends countless hours on a treadmill. Notoriously surly yet able to win over enough support from subordinates and bosses to hold on to his job. He presides over a campaign that has killed thousands of Islamist militants and angered millions of Muslims, but he is himself a convert to Islam.

His defenders don’t even try to make him sound likable. Instead, they emphasize his operational talents, encyclopedic understanding of the enemy and tireless work ethic.

“Irascible is the nicest way I would describe him,” said a former high-ranking CIA official who supervised the counterterrorism chief. “But his range of experience and relationships have made him about as close to indispensable as you could think.”

Critics are less equivocal. “He’s sandpaper” and “not at all a team player,” said a former senior U.S. military official who worked closely with the CIA. Like others, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the director of CTC — as the center is known — remains undercover.

The story takes up four pages and makes for interesting reading. “Roger” has been highly successful despite apparently a very poor start to his career and his surly demeanor. This is, to say the least, unusual in any line of work, much less a bureaucracy.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, Terrorism, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    He’s really a classic fiction character. I’d be worried he was a cliche if not for the Muslim convert angle. That’s a nice touch.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    More proof of Obama’s secret Muslim plan for introducing Sharia as the law of the land. The only surprise here is that Bush was in on it too.

  3. Ekke Pikke says:

    Does it matter whether he is a Muslim a Jew an atheist, he is paid to do a job and he does it well. The thing we miss is, unless we really look at our foreign policy and make it fair and balanced for the rest of the world, doesn’t matter how much clandestine we dip into, will not win the hearts of the people of this world. We are known as war starters and until we show credibility, we will be fighting this war against terror.

    Ekke Pikke

  4. James in LA says:

    Roger, you say? Small, gray fella, large head, fat thighs, lives in an attic….?

  5. Brett says:

    The article mentions some other qualities, including his background experience. I would wager that this is going to lead to an effort to uncover his identity.

  6. PJ says:


    The article mentions some other qualities, including his background experience. I would wager that this is going to lead to an effort to uncover his identity.

    I’m betting the article is filled with false information regarding his background.

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Oh boy….don’t tell Fox News.

  8. giantslor says:

    Pamela Gellar is going to point to this as proof that Obama is stacking the government with terrorist sleeper agents.