Former CIA Agent to Americans: Time to Talk About What’s Really Causing Terrorism


By Carey Wedler at


In the wake of yet another terrorist attack, a former CIA counterterrorism agent has shared her insight into what causes such tragic, intentional carnage. Amaryllis Fox spoke for the first time publicly with Al Jazeera Plus (AJ+) about terrorism, misguided narratives on why it happens, and the underlying motivators driving it — ultimately urging  Americans and those in power to adopt a different approach in combating the ongoing violence.

If I learned one lesson from my time with the CIA, it is this: everybody believes they are the good guy,” says Fox, who is currently “in the process of getting her CIA cover rolled back,AJ+ reports. She is now a peace activist and runs Mulu,an e-commerce company supporting at-risk communities around the world.

Fox worked as a counterterrorism and intelligence official for the clandestine services during the 2000s. In her first public statement on her time there, she discussed the limitations on the American public’s perception of the war on terror:

The conversation that’s going on in the United States right now about ISIS and about the United States overseas is more oversimplified than ever. Ask most Americans whether ISIS poses an existential threat to this country and they’ll say yes. That’s where the conversation stops.

Indeed, while a majority of Americans fear terrorism, reaching a consensus on how to tackle ISIS has proved contentious. Fox explained the simplicity of the way the conflicts are viewed on both sides:

If you’re walking down the street in Iraq or Syria and ask anybody why America dropped bombs, you get: ‘They were waging war on Islam.’”

In America, the question is: “Why were we attacked on 9/11?

Fox says if you pose this question, “You get: they hate us because we’re free.”

However, she contests the validity of these assumptions, pointing to the powerful forces that drive conflict in the first place:

Those are stories manufactured by a really small number of people on both sides who amass a great deal of power and wealth by convincing the rest of us to keep killing each other.

Indeed, both sides of the conflict expend significant effort campaigning to prove their crusades are justified. In the United States, after decades of prolonged conflict, the populace is largely desensitized to war and oftenignorant of its current manifestations.

Fox challenges this paradigm:

I think the question we need to be asking, as Americans examining our foreign policy, is whether or not we’re pouring kerosene on a candle. The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them. If you hear them out, if you’re brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that more often than not, you might have made some of the same choices if you’d lived their life instead of yours.

Of course, as Americans mourn the most recent mass shooting, it is doubtful many citizens are well-versed in the U.S. foreign policy that provokes such terrorism. Rather, they focus, understandably, on the wrong done to their nation. But Fox offered a unique perspective that lends insight to the “enemy.”

An Al-Qaeda fighter made a point once during debriefing,” she recounted. “He said all these movies that America makes — like Independence Day, and the Hunger Games, and Star Wars — they’re all about a small scrappy band of rebels who will do anything in their power with the limited resources available to them to expel an outside, technological advanced invader. ‘And what you don’t realize,’ he said, is that to us, to the rest of the world, you are the empire, and we are Luke and Han. You are the aliens and we are Will Smith.’”

However, she also challenged the Al-Qaeda fighter’s take, arguing that on both sides of  conflict, those fighting on the ground often provide the same reasons for doing so:

But the truth is that when you talk to people who are really fighting on the ground, on both sides, and ask them why they’re there, they answer with hopes for their children, specific policies that they think are cruel or unfair,” she says.

And while it may be easier to dismiss your enemy as evil, hearing them out on policy concerns is actually an amazing thing, because as long as your enemy is a subhuman psychopath that’s gonna attack you no matter what you do, this never ends. But if your enemy is a policy, however complicated — that we can work with.”

As terror attacks become an increasingly normal occurrence in the West — and as Western intervention trudges ahead unabated — hearing out enemies’ concerns may, at this point, be the most effective counterterrorism gesture the United States can make; that is, if it is truly determined to bring an end to the violence.

This article (Former CIA Agent to Americans: Time to Talk About What’s Really Causing Terrorism) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article at [email protected].


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  1. Hey Anonymous: what is the deal with your new “softball” approach on the 9/11 conspiracy w/Saudi Arabia, the U.S.A. & Israel? If I want a puff piece, I’ll read the New York Times. Well?

  2. Where´s the proof that she was in the CIA? Why it is important that an Ex-CIA Member tells this Story? How can she proof all that Stuff? For me, Words are no proof…

  3. To her the things she said are truth. To the politicians and elitists what she says is a direct erosion of their power structure. The elitists do not want peace or understanding. Those things bring about unity. It is a proven fact that you cannot control a united front so they must keep us divided. Smaller factions are easily steered in the directions you want.
    What good would peace be for the jobs of the world? Absolutely nothing. The war machine and the control machinistas are fed through our fighting and misunderstandings.They are hungry, hungry for more. Never will you see peace in this world. Be honest with yourselves. During the 50’s and 60’s many thought communism was the way to go. The concept” everyone works for the betterment of the state” sound great doesn’t it? On paper it is the answer to all problems. In real life it cannot exist because someone must lead, someone must be in power to control the workings and flow. And we all know the adage “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Well it does. As long as we can use our brains to decipher between reality and that which people try to stuff down our throats as truth we might have a chance. Slim but a chance.
    One feature of humanity that we cannot escape is GREED. It is the leading factor in all things. It makes us look at others and want what they have. It never allows us to achieve the top but always keeps us grinding and burrowing into our fears. The hate emerges when you see the elitists. They have everything or so it appears.And you want just alittle of what they have, Right? That is greed. Yes we understand that premise and we also understand nothing will be done about it. I mean how can we change human nature?
    The girl in this video is right, we need to listen more and want less. The political arena today is the chalkboard for all that I have written. Just listen to the concepts they are using. They are trying so hard to keep us divided. They say” my belief is the right way. So vote for me”. They say “the other is a liar and will never do good for anyone but themselves”. They say “would you consider the other fit to control the nukes?” Do you see a pattern starting here? Divide and conquer. Divide and control.Divide and be divided. Always breaking us down to smaller and smaller circles that fear the others. Standup and take pride in what you are. Vote for a candidate by knowing the truth behind their movement. Do not listen to the media by itself, the media is bought and paid for by the political parties and the elitists. They work on their own agendas. Proof….. Just listen to the weather people….. They use computers to tell you what will happen in your future when it is happening right before your face if you only look outside. They lie on a daily basis in order to keep you calm. They have no idea what will happen with the weather until it really happens.Yet each and everyday we turn on our media and wait for the promises of a good weather day. Knowing fully that they can and probably will be wrong 90% of the time. The powers to be in all countries do the same. They use the media to do their dirty work so that they can say whe boxed in a corner, “I personally did nothing wrong”…. Yep they are right. They convinced you that are clear of all shame………Manufacturing losses in this country have caused homelesness and strife. This happened because we allowed these companies to leave our cities and move to countries they could manipulate better and wages were cheap without taxes. Hooray for them and fuck us.

    • You are absolutely right. All this is true. The details are personal, group thinking lowers intelligence quotient. Anarchy… belief in one’s self, not some imaginary hierarchy. Trust people to be true to themselves, without others opinions. If it’s “in the news”, it’s bull shit.

  4. The old adage:- “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is a very simple analogy but oh so true.
    The “West” has only become a target for terrorism because we keep harming them in the first place.

  5. I can agree to sitting down and listening. I’ll even volunteer to be the one to do it.
    Yet I still question weather terroristic minds will stop.
    I do know one thing that’ll help. Which is the united States government to keep it’s grubby hand’s and nose out of other nations business. Completely.


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