Michele Rigby Assad was one of those people who lived a dangerous and stressful existence working undercover for the CIA, she served in treacherous areas throughout the Middle East—a woman leading some of the most highly skilled operatives on the planet. And deep inside, Michele wondered: Could she really do this job or had she misunderstood her life’s calling?
In her new autobiographical book, Breaking Cover, Michele has at last been cleared to drop her mandatory cover and tell her story of incredible struggle, of unexpected challenges and thwarted missions, and most significantly, of powerfully realizing what really matters in the face of her greatest fears.
Michele Rigby Assad, a former counterterrorism officer with CIA, who escaped ISIS and was featured on ABC’s 20/20, will be speaking about her new book “Breaking Cover” beginning on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, the day of its release.
Ms. Rigby engages the reader and brings them on an intense path from her rescue mission in Iraq to relocating internally displaced Iraqis to Slovakia. She is candid about her work as an undercover officer in the super-secret National Clandestine Service of the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Rigby’s top assignment was in Iraq and working as a deep cover agent in the chaotic Arab world. She served in treacherous areas throughout the Middle East — a woman leading some of the most highly skilled operatives on the planet. The threats were real. The missions were perilous. The recognition for her achievements never acknowledged.
Even when CIA officers and operatives are killed in the line-of-duty, the only acknowledgement at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for an agent’s sacrifice is a single gold star on a wall that carries no names, ranks, or details of the agent’s death.
In Breaking Cover, Ms. Rigby has at last been cleared to drop cover and tell her story of incredible struggle, of unexpected challenges and thwarted missions, and most significantly, of powerfully realizing what really matters in the face of her greatest fears. “As I prepared myself to walk in and meet Abu Muhammad for the first time, I knew I had a fourth handicap: I WAS A WOMAN.
Michele Rigby Assad joined the CIA in January 2002, just four months after the devastating 9-11 al-Qaeda attack. She spent a decade working as an undercover intelligence officer in the Directorate of Operations. Specializing in counterterrorism and counterintelligence, Michele worked in several hot spots, including Iraq at the height of the war. To date, Michele has lived in six countries and traveled to more than forty others.
Michele is now serving her nation as an author, public speaker, trainer, and security consultant focused on the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a political science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA). Her forthcoming book Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For, will be available this Tuesday throughout the nation. She and her husband, Joseph Assad, live in Florida. Joseph was born in Egypt to Christian parents. He also attended PBA on scholarship and studied political science and biblical studies.
Rigby’s official speaking tour will begin in our nation’s Capitol on Thursday, February 22, 2018 — Breaking Cover An Evening with Michele Rigby Assad. The event will be will hosted by the Spy Museum, 6:30 PM.
She is expected to thrill audiences with her and her husband’s CIA experiences and their experiences aiding Christians in Muslim nations. During a lecture at their undergraduate alma mater — Palm Beach Atlantic University — the couple told about their lives after the CIA:
Since leaving the CIA, Michele has been writing a book and Joseph manages a consulting firm based out of the United Arab Emirates. The couple also is continuing work they began that involves relocating Iraqi Christians to Europe to escape persecution from Islamic terrorists.
Last December, the ABC News show 20/20 chronicled the difficulties the Assads and their team faced, from finding a country that would accept the 149 refugees to transporting them to safety. Television producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, initiated the project.
One country, Slovakia, agreed to accept the refugees, Joseph said. He said the work took on a special urgency because Islamic extremists are seeking to “annihilate” Christians in parts of the Middle East.
The rescue was successful primarily because of the prayers of many people, Michele said. “We had a group of prayer warriors literally praying us through this whole thing from the very beginning … It was the people who were praying behind the scenes interceding on our behalf that got us through the situations,” she said.
Added Joseph, “counterterrorism work was nothing compared to this.”
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