In his spare time, Jose "Jay" Mijares (B.A.,
'95) studies Iaido, a Japanese martial art which stresses the need
to be prepared for any situation. Staying one step ahead of the game
is also a large part of his counterterrorism work for the FBI.
"There's an inherent danger with al Qaeda. They're very adaptive.
Every time they raise the bar, we have to catch up and try to figure
out their next move," says Mijares, who was working as an analyst
in the bureau's civil rights and public corruption department until
Sept. 11, 2001. Soon after, he was transferred to a Joint Terrorism
Task Force made up of state and local law enforcement officers, FBI
agents and other personnel.
In an effort to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism from Monterey
to the Oregon border, Mijares sifts through documents, shares information
with other government agencies, and briefs managers on his findings.
Researching and writing papers for his history classes, he says, was
great preparation for the job.
"[A good analyst has] to be detail-oriented, someone who likes
to solve puzzles. But sometimes you have just one piece out of a hundred,
so you need patience, diligence," Mijares says. "One case
can go on for two or three years."
Sometimes the pieces come together. In March 2003, Mijares's analytical
skills played a key role in confirming suspicions that not only the
Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge had been targeted by terrorists, but
also the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. He recalls his heart racing until
the information was released and bridge security heightened.
Mijares was pursuing his bachelor's degrees in geography and history
at SFSU when he discovered Tom Clancy novels and grew determined to
follow in protagonist Jack Ryan's footsteps. After answering an employment
ad in the student newspaper, Mijares spent three years interning in
the CIA's cartography department before he was hired at the FBI.
"There's satisfaction in knowing that as part of a team, I'm doing
something to keep this area safe," Mijares says, "so that
nothing happens to prevent people from going about their
business every day."
-- Adrianne Bee