Aimen Dean (@AimenDean) was once one of al-Qaeda’s most respected bomb-makers who swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden himself. He eventually switched sides and spent eight years as an MI6 spy trying to take al-Qaeda down from the inside. He is the author of Nine Lives: My Time as the MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda. and co-host of podcast Conflicted. This is part two of a two-part episode. Check out part one here!
What We Discuss with Aimen Dean:
- How Aimen became one of the West’s top assets in the War on Terror after he had already resolved to leave a life of intrigue behind.
- What it took for Aimen to go from relatively safe debriefing asset living in London to a thrill-seeking, active spy on the front lines of a warzone.
- The three methods of espionage: human intelligence, signal intelligence, electronic surveillance.
- How Aimen averted Al-Qaeda’s suspicions for 33 months while maintaining frequent contact with his Western handlers (even as five fellow spies were discovered and beheaded during this time).
- What eventually blew Aimen’s cover, and why he’s not overly concerned about his former terrorist colleagues seeking revenge in spite of there being a fatwa calling for his death.
- And much more…
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Hey, we all do crazy things when we’re young. Sometimes we toilet paper the principal’s house on Halloween. Sometimes we superglue the entire football team’s lockers shut the night of homecoming. Sometimes we abuse the district phone tree to cancel school and get a three-day weekend in honor of Groundhog Day. Sometimes we draw a wang in Sharpie on some dude’s forehead when he passes out at the party. And sometimes, when you’re Aimen Dean, author of Nine Lives: My Time as the MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda and co-host of podcast Conflicted, you memorize the Quran at age 12, get radicalized into fighting (or using your creative accounting skills) for jihadists around the world, swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and then look for an exit strategy because you realize you don’t want the blood of innocents on your hands — you really just want to go to university and pursue a career teaching history.
Then the British offer to recruit you into MI6 in order to spy on your former terrorist colleagues when it’s clear they’re trying to start the war to end all wars at all costs based on faulty scriptural translations and manipulations. On this episode, we talk to Aimen about how this unbelievable-but-true series of events transpired. This is part two of a two-part episode. Check out part one here. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss the episode we did with Vince Beiser — author of The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization? Make sure to check out episode 97: Vince Beiser | Why Sand Is More Important Than You Think It Is!
THANKS, AIMEN DEAN!
If you enjoyed this session with Aimen Dean, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Nine Lives: My Time as the MI6’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda by Aimen Dean with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
- Conflicted Podcast
- Aimen Dean | Twitter
- Aimen Dean | Facebook
- An Insider View of the Sleeper Cell Terrorist: A Face Validity Study | Journal of Applied Security Research
- PlayStation 5
- What is the Difference Between MI5 and MI6 (SIS)? | MI5
- (MI6) SIS | Secret Intelligence Service
- Language of Espionage | International Spy Museum
- ‘In An Era Of AI, You Need Human Intelligence’: UK Spy Chief | The Sociable
- INTelligence: Signals Intelligence | CIA
- Spy Merchants: What is Electronic Surveillance? | Al Jazeera
- The Double Life of a Russian ‘Spy’ Beheaded by Islamic State | Reuters
- When You’re Best Friends with a Famous Serial Killer | Vice
- Coalition Announces Death of ISIS Leaders | Defense Department News
- ‘Fatwa’ Not An Automatic Death Sentence | CNN
- Why Youth Join Al-Qaeda | United States Institute of Peace
- Al-Qaida Today, 18 Years After 9/11 | Brookings Institute
- Al Qaeda Is Ready to Attack You Again | Foreign Policy
- Salafism | Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion
- Combining Between Fear, Hope, and Love | Knowing Allah
- Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought and History | Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion
- Who Joins ISIS and Why? | HuffPost
- The Root Cause of Extremism among British Muslims Is Alienation | The Guardian
- The Role of Non-Violent Islamists in Europe | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
- E-narrator – an Application for Creating an Ontology of Hadiths Narration Tree Semantically and Graphically | Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering
- Narrative Networks | Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad
- Flat Earthers: What They Believe and Why | Scientific American
- A Historical Overview of the Precursor of Salafism and Wahhabism | The Standard
- The Kharijites: Historical Roots of the Ideology of Extremism and Terrorism | Islam Against Extremism
- The ‘Arab Spring’: Five Years On | Amnesty International
- Lawrence of Arabia | Prime Video
- How Middle Eastern Monarchies Survived the Arab Spring | The Washington Post
- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) | Wikipedia
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