Ms. Witt was born in El Paso 8 April 1979 . Her family moved to Florida when she was quite young.
She enlisted in the Air Force and entered active duty about eight months after her 18th birthday, in 1997, just after the death of her mother. Slender, with straight brown hair, she was quickly assigned to the crew of an RC-135 spy plane — a jet packed with reconnaissance equipment. She served as an airborne crypto linguist and later became a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
She first deployed to the Middle East in 2002, when she was sent to Saudi Arabia.
Eventually Witt was drawn into the all-consuming “war on terror”, posted to Thumrait air base in Oman and Irbil in Iraq, according to a posting on an Iraq veterans’ website. The experience seems to have been the key to her disillusion.
Other missions followed: to Diego Garcia, a British atoll in the Indian Ocean of immense strategic value to Western militaries, and to Greece. In 2005, she served an almost six-month deployment to Iraq at a time of growing sectarian violence and insurgent attacks. The next year, she began a roughly seven-month tour in Qatar.
She last served with the 2nd Field Investigations Squadron, Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the Air Force said in the Military Times story. A spokesperson for the US Air Force told the BBC she was discharged in June 2008 with the rank of Technical Sergeant
In June 2008, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland University College, and later worked for two national security contractors. Eventually, she entered graduate school at George Washington, an academic proving ground for aspiring diplomats and researchers near the State Department’s headquarters.
“After viewing so much corruption and the damage we were doing both to Iraq/Afghanistan and to the perception of the US, I decided I needed to do as much as I could to help rectify the situation.”
However, after leaving the air force she stayed in the defence industry. She worked for five months as an intelligence analyst for the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and then more than two years at another Virginia-based contractor, Chenega Federal Systems, where she said on her resume that she had “supervised, controlled, and coordinated the execution of highly sensitive counterintelligence operations against foreign intelligence services worldwide”.
George Washington University’s International Affairs Review published two articles by Ms Witt in 2012. She criticised the US for calling on Iran’s neighbours to sever relations with Tehran. “In enacting a policy of severe sanctions against Iran, the US should address the potential affects (sic) on other countries and not inadvertently alienate friends by making them choose between Iran and the US” wrote Ms Witt.
According to her online CV, she lived and worked within countries including Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the UAE, Tajikistan and Iran.
Stone.More than a year before she allegedly defected, U.S. Air Force counterintelligence officer Monica Witt attended a film conference in Iran – an event that U.S. officials and former intelligence officers said was likely a recruiting ground for Iranian spy masters.
“It’s an intelligence targeting platform for the Iranian security apparatus,” former longtime CIA case officer Darrell M. Blocker said of such conferences. “It’s not sold as an intel thing, but of course the [U.S.] intelligence community is aware of them.”
An indictment unsealed against Witt Wednesday alleges that in February 2012 she traveled to Iran for a conference called “Hollywoodism” put on by an organization known as New Horizon. On its website, the organization bills itself as a Tehran-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that hosts conferences that cover topics including “Iranophobia,” “Zionist Lobby” and “US State hostility towards Afro-Americans.”
Witt converted to Islam in a televised ceremony in 2012 on her first trip to Tehran, at the same time as a more high-profile convert, Sean Stone, the son of US film director Oliver
Witt’s change in allegiance became clearer after a series of contacts with an unnamed Iranian from 2012 to 2013, investigators said. Witt allegedly provided her personal biography and job history and, before taking a flight from Dubai to Tehran, emailed her contact, “I’m signing off and heading out! Coming home,” closing with a smile emoji.
Ms. Witt defected in 2013 and became a spy for the Iranian security service. It was the climax of a radicalization that was rooted in Ms. Witt’s military service and that accelerated while she was in graduate school. The F.B.I., around the time Ms. Witt earned her graduate degree, alerted her that Iran’s intelligence service had its eye on her.
She told an Iranian contact that she was “endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil,” according to prosecutors.
In the weeks after defecting, she also conducted several Facebook searches of her former colleagues, and is alleged to have exposed one agent’s true identity, “thereby risking the life of this individual”.
Former intelligence officials familiar with the case described the damage to national security as severe, in part because she is suspected of revealing the names of double agents run by the United States, and the American authorities have struggled to conclude exactly why she turned on her country.