Fred Burton (security expert)
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Fred Burton is geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor's chief security officer and a New York Times bestselling author. His publishers describe him as "one of the world's foremost experts on security, terrorists and terrorist organizations."
Burton was born January 2, 1958, in Beckley, West Virginia, United States. 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. 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. Reflections on his experiences as a counterterrorism agent are recorded in his series, Lessons From Old Case Files.
Additionally, he was appointed to the Texas Border Security Council on September 11, 2007 by Governor Rick Perry. 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 regularly briefs corporate executive teams on security related issues and speaks at a variety of both public and private events, including the Southern Law Network's 18th Annual General Counsel Event. On Oct. 12, 2017, he moderated a panel at the Fourth Annual Texas National Security Forum at The University of Texas at Austin with former acting Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, former Acting Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency David Shedd, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis Leslie Ireland and former Under Secretary of Defense Marcel Lettre.
Burton is the author of a memoir, Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, published by Random House in 2008, and Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.
Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, written by Burton and Samuel M. Katz, was published by St. Martin's Press in September 2013 and was a New York Times bestseller. 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 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.
Burton contributed a sidebar article to the book Countering Hate by Bob Pearson and Haroon K. Ullah called "Pushing the Boulder Up a Hill: Why Are Terrorist Operations Successful." Marking the book's release in March 2018, Burton appeared with Pearson and Ullah for a panel at SXSW called Countering Hate: Understanding and Stopping Extremism.
Burton's next book will be published by Penguin Random House.
Film and TV appearances
Burton is frequently interviewed as a security expert by world news media on topics ranging from terrorist attacks to corporate security and 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. He regularly speaks with national and international media on counterterrorism, law enforcement and other security related matters, including the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In July 2016, Burton sat down with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer to discuss how corporate executives are responding to recent international terrorist attacks. In November 2016, Burton was featured in a Washington Post story on the potential threats to Trump-branded properties around the world after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
- 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.
- "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 Stratfor.com.
- "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.
- "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.
- Mann, Jessica (15 July 2011). "author". Jewish Chronicle Online. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- Texas Governor Rick Perry - Appointment - September 11, 2007
- "Law Networks - Southern". southernlawnetwork.com. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
- "VIDEO: Texas National Security Forum: Alliances and Partnerships in American National Security - Intelligence Studies Project". Retrieved 2017-10-24.
- "Hollywood Reporter". Hollywood Reporter. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "Las Vegas shooting a 'game changer' for hotels and entertainment industry: Security officer". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-11-03.