Naveed Jamali, a child of U.S. immigrants, joined the military after the 9/11 attacks, calling it the “defining moment of my life.”
He applied to become an intelligence officer with the Navy, which was originally denied. However, Jamali forged a path to work with the FBI as a double agent which opened the door to the Navy. His incredible story is discussed at length in this week’s episode of The American Legion’s Tango Alpha Lima podcast.
For three years, he met with a Russian officer, frequently at a Hooter’s restaurant in New Jersey.
“It was intense,” recalled Jamali, a member of The American Legion. “There were a lot of moments, just like in the military or raising kids or in your day-to-day job, you plan and immediately things go wrong. Part of the challenge is to not to just execute a plan but being able to adapt in the moment and overcome.”
Even though the USSR was no more, for Russia the Cold War had never ended and the United States was the primary enemy.
At the conclusion of the operation, Jamali and his handlers had cast a bright light on Russian espionage operating out of the Russian Mission to the United Nations in New York. It was a victory for America and illustrated how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pledges of reconciliation should not be taken seriously.
In describing his activities, Jamali referenced the “Circle of Trust” from the “Meet the Fockers” movie, and related his sometimes unglamorous experience as a spy to military service.
“You have to churn and not get stuck on the little things. Isn’t that military service, too?”
Tango Alpha Lima, which debuted in April 2020, is hosted by American Legion members Mark Seavey, Jeff Daly and Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado. Episodes are released by 9 a.m. Eastern time each Tuesday.
If you missed any of the previous episodes, they are available in both audio and video formats here.