Ali Soufan
Ali Soufan

United States

Founder, The Soufan Center

Ali Soufan is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Soufan Group and Founder of The Soufan Center. A leading national security and counterterrorism expert, he plays a significant advisory role in global intelligence issues. As an FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Ali investigated and supervised complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. Ali had a distinguished career in the FBI, including serving on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, New York Office, where he coordinated both domestic and international counterterrorism operations. He often operated out of hostile environments and carried out sensitive extraterritorial missions and high-level negotiations, and he has received numerous awards and commendations for his work. These include the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence, the Respect for Law Enforcement Award for “relentless pursuit of truth and bringing terrorist subjects before the bar of justice,” and a commendation from the U.S. Department of Defense that labeled him “an important weapon in the ongoing war on terrorism.”

Ali is also a respected author and has written the Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State and the New York Times top-10 bestseller The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, winner of the 2012 Ridenhour Book Prize. On its original release in 2011, many of the most significant passages in The Black Banners were redacted; after a decade of legal wrangling, the full story is now told in The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11(2020). In addition to his writing, Ali has testified before the U.S. Congress, presidential commissions, and the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, and he has appeared as an expert panelist and guest speaker at international security forums, both in the United States and abroad. He has contributed to and been profiled and interviewed by 60 Minutes, Frontline, The New Yorker, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Straits Times, Der Spiegel, and Asharq al-Awsat, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC. His work has also been detailed in several nonfiction books, including The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright, which was adapted into a 10-part Hulu series in 2018. Ali is an honors graduate of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, where he received his undergraduate double degree in International Studies and Political Science, minoring in Cultural Studies and Anthropology. He received a Master of Arts in International Relations from Villanova University, graduating magna cum laude.