Rudolph Atallah is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
Atallah is Chief Executive Officer of White Mountain Research, a small Virginia-based business providing tailored international security solutions to clients focused on Africa and the Middle East. White Mountain Research partners with like-minded organizations to save lives and resettle persecuted families in the Middle East and around the world. Atallah currently oversees the evacuation and rescue of persecuted religious minorities in Northern Iraq and Syria, and his team has funded and rebuilt homes in the region.
Before retiring in 2009 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after twenty-one years of service in the US Air Force, Atallah’s military career included aviation, special operations, intelligence, and counterterrorism. In his last military posting, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Africa Counterterrorism Director (2003-2009), while concurrently holding positions as East Africa Director (2003-2007) and Country Director for Morocco and Tunisia (2007-2009). His responsibilities included advising the Secretary of Defense and other senior US officials on counterterrorism policy and strategy while serving as an adviser to the US Department of State and numerous US embassies across Africa.
Other highlights from his military career include: Air Force defense attaché accredited to six West African countries; director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Orientation Course at the Joint Special Operations University; and instructor pilot with over 4,000 flight hours, including combat flight time. Upon his retirement, Atallah was the only foreign area officer in the Air Force to hold three concurrent regional designations for Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
Atallah is a sought-after speaker and adviser on national security, counter-terrorism, and cultural intelligence issues and is regarded internationally for his ground truth insights on African security matters. He has been a featured guest on programs such as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, as well as on CNN and the National Geographic Channel, where he discussed his involvement in African counter-piracy and the successful resolution of the 2009 Maersk Alabama incident.
A native of Beirut, Lebanon, and fluent in Arabic and French, Atallah holds a bachelor of science in electrical and biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a master’s of science in international relations from Troy University.