AVAILABLE (2019 Update at Bottom)
This Montana savant was the youngest female judge in U.S. History at 28. But when 9/11 happened, the 32-year-old mom of three absorbs 50 books on Middle East culture and teaches herself a 4th language, Arabic. After studying jihadists’ violent websites and blogs, Shannen understood – it would be her job to take them down.
Using more than 30 male Muslim personalities and theatrics for cover, she begins trolling terrorist chat rooms while her children sleep. When she convinces her first extremist target to meet, she simply calls in the sting to stunned local FBI agents.
The judge’s remarkable cyber-hunts and raw country gumption raises eyebrows in official Washington, but grateful field agents and overseas operatives see success and adopt the volunteer as one of their own. Shannen receives national security clearance and training to carry a weapon, then she begins joining in on classified terrorism briefings, surveillance operations, remote stings, even interrogations.
But her covert crusade comes with a hefty cost: It begins when a JAG prosecutor leaks Shannen’s name to the press, leading to threats on her life – six foreign assassins are intercepted, the closest within 20 miles of her Montana home. Then she loses her court job, marriage and health.
Supporters of her heroic efforts, however, fund the sleuth until her retirement from terrorism “cyber-counterintelligence” in 2011. Over the decade, she’s credited with over 200 cases of actionable intelligence and takedowns around the world.
NOW WITH HER CHILDREN GROWN, 49-year-old Shannen is a state investigator managing an elite team with hundreds of cases – from organized crime, kidnappings, crimes involving children, drug interdiction, human trafficking and ID theft.
Still, her weapon of choice: a keyboard.
FYI: Washington Post article, “Judge, Mom, FBI Cyber-Spy,” on homepage.