Fred Burton

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Fred Burton is Stratfor's vice president for intelligence,[1][2] and his publishers describe him as "one of the world's foremost experts on security, terrorists and terrorist organizations."[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Burton was born January 2, 1958, in Beckley, West Virginia. He attended high school in Bethesda, Maryland, and became a volunteer with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad at age 18, in 1975. He remains a Life Member of the organization, which bills itself as the world's largest volunteer rescue squad. His volunteer activities are briefly referenced in his first book, "Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent."

Some of the events in his early life are recounted in the 2011 book "Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice." Burton has said he was deeply impacted by the murder in 1973 of a neighbor, Joe Alon, who was later discovered to have been an Israeli intelligence operative.


Burton began his career in law enforcement as a police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland and later worked for the U.S. Secret Service.[5] From 1985 to 1999, he was a special agent with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). He eventually became the deputy chief of the DSS counterterrorism division.

While with the DSS, Burton was appointed by Washington to assist in the investigation of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He also investigated the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane; the al Qaeda New York City bombing plots before the September 11 attacks; and the Libyan-backed terrorist attacks against diplomats in Sana'a and Khartoum. He was involved in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Mr. Burton joined Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based geopolitical forecasting and analysis company, in 2004.

Additionally, he was appointed to the Texas Border Security Council on September 11, 2007 by Governor Rick Perry.[6] In August 2009, he was hired as the Texas Department of Public Safety's Assistant Director for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism but left after two months to pursue his writing and speaking career.


Burton is the author of a memoir, Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, published by Random House in 2008,[3] and Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.[4]

Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, written with Samuel M. Katz, was published by St. Martin's Press in September 2013. Vanity Fair ran a lengthy excerpt from the book shortly before it was published. HBO has purchased the film rights to the book, with executive producer Jerry Weintraub[7] to oversee production.

In addition to his own memoirs, Burton has been referenced or portrayed in other books, including 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI -- Untold Story by former ABC News correspondent Peter Lance (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004) and a commemorative book of photos published by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, 25 Years in Pictures.

Burton's involvement in the search for and capture of Ramzi Yousef was chronicled in Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists by Sam Katz (Forge, 2002). The acquaintance that was formed as Katz was writing this book led to his collaboration with Burton more than a decade later on Under Fire.

Film and TV Appearances[edit]

Burton is frequently interviewed as a security expert by world news media, on topics ranging from terrorist attacks to U.S.-Mexico border security.

He appeared in the documentary "Drug Wars," by writer/director Gary "Rusty" Fleming (2008). He also was featured in Liora Amir Barmatz's 2011 documentary, "Who Shot My Father?", about the 1973 murder of Israeli Air Force colonel Joe Alon and his family's subsequent quest to solve the case.

In May 2008, Burton was interviewed on Comedy Central's The Daily Show by host Jon Stewart.

February 2012 Wikileaks email intercepts[edit]

In February 2012 Wikileaks began publishing emails allegedly intercepted from Stratfor.[8]

Stratfor released a statement confirming that emails were stolen from their systems in December, stating that "the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them." [9]

The emails released on Wikileaks painted an unflattering portrait of Burton, who was detailed by Egyptian newspaper Al Akbar as "Stratfor VP for Racist Slurs".[10] The newspaper noted Burton's emails where he was noted as being a “tyrant”[11] by STRATFOR staff, "paranoid" (his own words). Burton was also noted for using the racial epithets “towel heads”,[12] “camel jockies” or “sleezy arsehole ragheads” to describe [13] to refer to Arab terror suspects.


  1. ^ Nicholas Johnston; Kate Andersen Brower (4 May 2011). "Bin Laden Killed After Wife Shot While Rushing Commando, U.S. Account Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 21 May 2011. Fred Burton, the vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, discusses the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a U.S. raid in Pakistan yesterday. 
  2. ^ "Al Qaeda's Future After Bin Laden". Fox News Channel. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011. Joining us now from Austin, Texas, is Fred Burton, the vice president of Intelligence for 
  3. ^ a b "Fred Burton: author spotlight". Random House. Retrieved 21 May 2011. Fred Burton is one of the world’s foremost experts on security, terrorists, and terrorist organizations. He is vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, an influential private intelligence company. He is the former deputy chief of the Diplomatic Security Service, the Department of State’s counterterrorism division. 
  4. ^ a b "Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 21 May 2011. On a warm Saturday night in July 1973 in Bethesda Maryland, a gunman stepped out from behind a tree and fired five point-blank shots into Joe Alon, an unassuming Israeli Air Force pilot and family man. Alon's sixteen-year-old neighbor, Fred Burton, was deeply shocked by this crime that rocked his sleepy suburban neighborhood. 
  5. ^ Mann, Jessica (15 July 2011). "author". Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Texas Governor Rick Perry - Appointment - September 11, 2007
  7. ^ "Hollywood Reporter". Hollywood Reporter. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  8. ^ WikiLeaks Publishes Global Intelligence Files: Over 5 Million Emails
  9. ^ The Guardian - WikiLeaks releases first 200 of 5m Stratfor emails
  10. ^
  11. ^ Fred Burton, Stratfor VP for Racist Slurs, March 20, 2012, Al Akbar News
  12. ^ Fred Burton, Stratfor VP for Racist Slurs, March 20, 2012, Al Akbar News
  13. ^ Fred Burton, Stratfor VP for Racist Slurs, March 20, 2012, Al Akbar News

External links[edit]