Michael D'Andrea

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Michael D'Andrea is an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, recently appointed to head the Agency's Iran Mission Center.[1] He was a major figure in the search for Osama bin Laden, as well as the American drone strike targeted killing campaign.[1]

Early life[edit]

D'Andrea was raised in Northern Virginia.[1] He met his wife while working overseas with the Central Intelligence Agency, and converted to Islam in order to marry her.[1][2] His wife, Faridah Currimjee D'Andrea is a daughter of a wealthy Muslim family from Mauritius with Gujarati origins.[3]

Central Intelligence Agency[edit]

D'Andrea joined the CIA in 1979, and he was considered an underperformer at Camp Peary.[4] D'Andrea reportedly began his overseas career in Africa, and he is listed as a foreign service officer at the Embassy of the United States in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.[4][5] D'Andrea previously served as chief of station in Cairo, Egypt and later in Baghdad, Iraq.[4][6] D'Andrea was reportedly one of the CIA officials who failed to track Nawaf al-Hazmi, who would later participate in the September 11 attacks.[6]

D'Andrea became head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center in 2006, replacing Robert Grenier.[7] During his nine-year tenure, D'Andrea presided over hundreds of American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, advocating for the program to the United States Congress.[1][8] In 2015, leadership of the drone program was passed to Chris Wood, following bureaucratic reshuffling by Director John O. Brennan.[9][8] During his time at the Counterterrorism Center many reporters referred to him only by the codename "Roger", which was considered unusual for an official not posted overseas.[2][6][4]

During the hunt for Osama bin Laden, D'Andrea directed an analysis of competing hypotheses as to who, besides Osama bin Laden, could be in the targeted compound in Abbottabad.[10]

D'Andrea's operatives also oversaw the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, which a United States Senate report described as torture.[8][1] He was reportedly involved in the assassination of Hezbollah member Imad Mughniyah in Damascus, Syria.[1] He received much blame for the Camp Chapman attack in Khost, Afghanistan, when seven CIA operatives were killed by a suicide bomber.[4][6]

He has been nicknamed "Ayatollah Mike."[1]

In popular culture[edit]

D'Andrea was the inspiration for the character of "The Wolf" in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.[6][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rosenberg, Matthew; Goldman, Adam (June 2, 2017). "C.I.A. Names New Iran Chief in a Sign of Trump's Hard Line". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Cook, John (March 26, 2015). "Why Won't the Post Name CIA Counterterrorism Chief Michael D'Andrea?". Gawker. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  3. ^ "CIA Agent Ayatollah Mike's Face Revealed: Iran's View". Iran's View. June 3, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Miller, Greg (March 24, 2012). "At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  5. ^ Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts: Guide for Business Representatives. DIANE Publishing Company. 1998. p. 113. ISBN 9780788148682. RAO: Michael A. D'Andrea
  6. ^ a b c d e Schou, Nicholas (June 28, 2017). "Outing the CIA's 'Undertaker'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017.
  7. ^ Cockburn, Andrew (2015). Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 9780805099270.
  8. ^ a b c Mazzetti, Mark; Apuzzo, Matthew (April 25, 2015). "Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.'s Drone Missions". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  9. ^ Miller, Greg (June 16, 2016). "Why CIA drone strikes have plummeted". The Washington Post. "I suspect that has an awful lot to do with it," said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in CIA and Pentagon discussions about collaboration in Yemen, and described Michael D'Andrea, the former CTC chief, as an obstacle. D'Andrea was replaced by Chris Wood, a longtime CIA officer who is widely considered more collegial and willing to compromise with U.S. military officials.
  10. ^ Zenko, Micah (2015). Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy. Basic Books. pp. 100–101. ISBN 9780465073955.