For terror analyst Alex Kassirer, ESIA BA ’13, no two days in the office are alike.
The recent grad works at Flashpoint, a Manhattan-based cyber security firm that builds big data software relating to the Deep and Dark web and provides consulting for a range of public and private sector clients. She started with the company as an intern the summer before her senior year at GW and has been with the group ever since.
“I focus on the Middle East and North Africa, primarily Jihadist groups,” says Alex, who specializes in counterterrorism. “I track their online activity and follow them on their Deep and Dark web forums, and social media.”
At Flashpoint, Alex works with a wide range of clients, including foreign and domestic governments, media, and financial firms. There has been no shortage of unique experiences, either. She has worked on government cases, including authoring expert Congressional testimonies, and recently published an article in West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel periodical.
Alex also has an exclusive on-air contract with NBCUniversal.
“My work at NBC is bundled with my work at Flashpoint,” says Alex, who has appeared on NBC news shows as a terrorism expert. “If they heard someone was killed in a drone strike and they want to confirm that, they’ll consult my colleagues and me.”
However, most of Flashpoint’s work for NBCUniversal occurs off-air, behind the scenes, she says.
“We’re in constant communication with NBC about stories they air as they relate to terrorism,” she says. “Whenever you see stories about terrorism, whether it’s ISIS, Al Qaeda, or anything like that, usually NBC has asked Flashpoint to authenticate anything they’re putting on air.”
While at the Elliott School, Alex majored in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict and Security. She minored in Religion with a focus on Islam and studied Arabic, a language that would ultimately help shape her career.
“I’ve always liked languages, and I decided that, after 9/11, a good language for me might be Arabic,” she says. “It was after I started studying it that I knew I wanted to get more involved with the intel side of things.”
Her job as a terror analyst is backed by a wide range of experience gained while working at several internships during her time at GW, the first in the office of Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman, the summer after her freshman year. Over the course of the next three years, Alex interned at the Embassy of Afghanistan, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, and INTERPOL’s counterterrorism division.
She counts her time at the Afghani Embassy as a particularly formative experience.
“Interning at the Embassy was definitely an ‘Only at GW’ moment,” she says. “It was something I only could have had while going to school in D.C. It helped me realize what I wanted to pursue.”
Alex says that these unique experiences, along with her time at the Elliott School, have contributed to the success she has achieved in her field.
“I initially thought I was more interested in politics,” she says. “GW completely transformed what I thought I wanted to do.”