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The Art of Awareness – Jonathan Gilliam

The Art of Awareness – Jonathan Gilliam

Real Talk: The Charles Mizrahi Show podcast

The Art of Awareness – Jonathan Gilliam

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He wrote the definitive safety bible … Jonathan Gilliam served his country for over a decade as a former Navy SEAL, FBI Special Agent and Federal Air Marshal. He now serves as an activist, author and educator — teaching everyday Americans how to safeguard themselves and their homes. Gilliam discusses his career path, Navy SEAL training and personal safety strategies with host Charles Mizrahi.

Topics Discussed:

  • An Introduction to Jonathan Gilliam (00:00:00)
  • Meeting a Navy SEAL (00:2:14)
  • The Story of Job (00:06:00)
  • Ranger Training (00:10:42)
  • Navy SEAL Training (00:16:39)
  • The Lone Survivor (00:23:30)
  • Air Marshal Post-9/11 (00:30:51)
  • Smoke and Mirrors (00:39:31)
  • Safety vs. Privacy (00:44:35)
  • Teaching Awareness (00:54:48)
  • Sheep No More (01:10:07)

Guest Bio:

At just 21 years old, Jonathan Gilliam dedicated his life to serving his country. Since then, he’s worn many hats. He began his career as a Navy SEAL, but soon moved on to federal law enforcement. After the events of 9/11, he served as a Federal Air Marshal and eventually an FBI Special Agent and private security contractor.

Then, after nearly 20 years in public service, Gilliam decided to share his safety knowledge with the world. He’s written two books (see below) that demonstrate effective personal protection techniques. These books cater to all audiences and help people take charge of their safety in any situation.

Resources Mentioned:

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Read Transcript

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Awareness is the greatest thing you can teach and learn. I don’t need to teach you how to be a Special Forces guy. If you’re aware and you have an idea of where bad things can happen, you are most likely going to make it out OK.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: My guest today is Jonathan Gilliam. Jonathan is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and FBI special agent. He’s the real deal. After 9/11, he served in an undercover role as a Federal Air Marshal flying on U.S. transcontinental flights. When it comes to personal safety, there are very few as qualified as he.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Jonathan’s latest book, Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival, is the definitive safety bible. Weekly, there are major threats, mass killings and terrorist attacks that specifically target everyday civilians. No one really expects violent situations to occur, but they do — and usually without warning.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Jonathan shares his experience and expertise on how to not end up a victim of a violent crime or attack. I recently sat down with him to talk about what motivated him to write Sheep No More and how we should all be more prepared to safeguard our families at our home.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Jonathan, thank you so much for being on my podcast. Since we spoke a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been looking forward to it. We started speaking, and I told you to hold all the stories because we had to save them for the podcast. Once again, thanks so much for being here today.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You’ve got it. I think this is something that people need to start doing more on podcasts. [They shouldn’t] just have celebrities on. They should also have podcasters who are doing their part and helping inform beyond the scope of mainstream media. I think these conversations are very important.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, I totally agree. And that’s why I reached out to you. I’ll spill the beans on your book in just a few minutes. But I want to get your background because you’re a thoroughly impressive and badass guy — in a good way. You’re a former U.S. Navy SEAL, FBI special agent, Federal Air Marshal and a whole bunch of other things. Before we begin, did you grow up and say: “I want to be a Navy SEAL”? How does that work?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Well, it didn’t used to be that way because nobody knew who they were. We heard stories about Special Forces or Commandos. That was the thing when I was younger — Commandos or the Green Berets. I didn’t really know anything about SEALs until I met a guy. I just found out who he was. I forget his name right now, but he has actually passed away. But I met him in San Diego around 1990 — when I was going to college out there. And gosh, this guy was just amazing. He was Hawaiian and 6’3.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Everything that you would think a SEAL looks like is typically not what they look like. A lot of times they’re scrappy. Nobody knew what it was.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: After I met with him — he was dating somebody at the gym where I worked — we had this conversation because I was thinking about becoming a pilot. I was in college and majoring in religion and philosophy at the time. We started talking about the spiritual side of being a SEAL. I know it sounds weird to most people, but the reality is that when you look inside your soul at that level, it’s a very terrifying and spiritual thing.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We had an incredible conversation. He told me I should go down there, check out the obstacle course and see what it was all about. It was as if — God has always worked this way in my life. He said: “This is what you’re going to do.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: At that point, I just happened to be studying the story about Job in the Old Testament or the Torah. Job had everything taken from him, and he didn’t really have a choice in the matter. But he didn’t lose his faith.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: So, I figured that the only thing that was harder than having nothing was having everything taken away from you. I didn’t think God was going to make me go through SEAL training. I chose to give it all up — not that I had a lot. The freedoms and dignity you have — and whatever you think you’re capable of doing when you go to BUD/S — it’s a totally different story. They take it all away from you. I gave all that up so I could go on a quest. It was a pretty interesting journey.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you weren’t in the U.S. Navy when you went to the obstacle course? You just saw that obstacle course in San Diego and said: “I want to be a Navy SEAL.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yes. I saw what they were doing and the training they were going through. After having a conversation with this guy — who was very inspirational…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I have to tell you: We had this conversation at the front desk of the gym. It wasn’t like we had dinner and a huge lecture.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wait a second. How old were you?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’m 51 now, so I was about 20 or 21 years old.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’re 21 years old. You’re working at a gym — and not your own. You’re working, handing out towels or doing whatever you have to do. I don’t know. I’m just making that up. So, you’re working at this gym. You have a conversation with a guy who is badass as can be — a Navy SEAL. He takes you down to look at an obstacle course.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Most people would say: “You’ve got to be insane. I will never put my body through that.” You look at it, and you have the wherewithal as a 21-year-old to say: “This is what I want to do”?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yeah. I’ve always tried to follow the will of God. There’s something weird about this. It was a calling. Everything came together at the right time. I was studying the things that I was studying. I was learning more and more about God’s will, what this nation was all about and what the Founding Fathers did. The story of Job profoundly hit me to the point where I said: “I am being called to give it all up and suffer — and choose to suffer.” Everything aligned. And it wasn’t easy. It’s not like I chose to do it, and they just gave me the opportunity.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I had to finish college, so I had to move back home. I left California and moved back home to Arkansas so I could focus on school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. When I graduated, I was already in good shape. But it took another two and a half years of training.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Overall, I’d say [it took] about five years of physical training to get to the point where I was an Olympic caliber, college caliber or professional sports-caliber athlete — because those are the people who are going to BUD/S a lot of the time.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Two and a half years after I graduated, it took almost three years to get a SEAL slot. I could have enlisted right away, but I read too many books and thought that being an officer was the way to go. So, I had to struggle to get a slot. That’s a whole story in and of itself. Overall, 15 people were chosen for the officer candidate school and a SEAL slot the year I got it. 

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Job didn’t choose his lot. You chose your lot. That’s a big difference, man. He had it all taken away. He had no idea why, but he still had inner strength. You looked at this and said: “I’m doing this.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Here’s the thing we had in common: We both had a life, and that life was taken away from us. So, whether I gave it away or it was taken away…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Listen, I grew up with nothing. I grew up poor. But even poor people have freedom and aren’t suffering physically in the way that we suffer in BUD/S. Giving up comfort — that’s the biggest thing. And Job had [that] taken from him. The entire time I was in BUD/S, I was in a struggle with myself more than anything.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: We had Darren McBurnett on the podcast. He’s a former Navy SEAL, 24-year instructor and top guy. I asked: “As an instructor, what are you trying to do? What’s your goal?” He said: “It’s pretty simple. We’re trying to tear person apart, recreate them and tell them: ‘You can do this.’ We get the guys who can swim fast. We get the guys who can run fast. It’s not about running. It’s not about swimming. It’s not about physical fitness. It’s about what’s between your two ears.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: There are a lot of people who show up at BUD/S. We started with over 130 people. Eleven graduated with the original class, and another 10 got recycled.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Overall, 21 people graduated. The individuals who showed up there — and succeeded — you could have talked to any of them, and they’d have said: “I’m not going to quit.” That was their main thing. When they got there, they knew that they weren’t going to quit. They had a need not to quit. Other people had a need to serve their country. We had that as well. But we had a need not to quit.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: So, the quest became — which is interesting because it has become my definition of the meaning of life…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We were there to show that we could be trained, trusted and wouldn’t quit. Once you get through, and prove that you can be trained, they’ll train you. You’ve proved that you can be trusted. Because when you get out, you’re going to be trusted with sensitive stuff. They put a lot of trust in you by giving you explosives and things like that. They test you. Life is pretty much the same way.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I know people don’t think of this stuff as spiritual, but all the way through, it was a spiritual quest for me. I look at life the same way. It makes life a lot more understandable — the beginning, end, what I have to do in between and what may come next.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We didn’t become SEALs until we graduated and went through what was called SQT — it was STT then — and then we get in our platoon and start doing a work up. That’s really when you start to become a SEAL. I look at life the same way. I’m going to finish this life as nobody but somebody who has proved that they can be trained and won’t quit. What happens after I leave this planet … That’s where the real life starts.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: People don’t get that BUD/S is just the first step. You still have another two years of training, right?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yeah. Overall, it’s about two years of training. You know, jump school. They wanted me to go through some more junior officer training. So, they sent me to Ranger school. I graduated from Ranger school in ’99. I went through BUD/S in ’97, and graduated Ranger school in ’99. So, that was interesting.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It was interesting because I was going through something that was very traumatic for a lot of people. Ranger school is not easy. For 62 days, you eat once a day and sleep an average of two hours a night. When you graduate, you have the immune system of a severe burn victim, and you have about the same number of vitamins in your system as somebody who has been dead for three days. That’s serious. They take you to the edge.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: How much weight did you lose?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: About 22 pounds.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: How much did you weigh going in?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Well, I purposely ate a ton before I went. I know other guys who show up, and they’re all ripped. They have a terrible time. I don’t remember how much I weighed when I went in there. But I know that when I came out, I weighed less than I did when I graduated high school.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’re losing 10% to 15% of your body weight — and a lot of muscle because you’re not eating— in a short span of time. Wow. That must be so fatiguing!

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Here’s the interesting thing: Having gone through BUD/S and learned how to function with the chaos around me … I could sit there — even though it was totally chaotic and things were terrible — and function very well. I would just listen to the instructions that were given. I didn’t care if they were beating me, making me do pushups or whatever. I only listened to the instructions. Whatever instructions they gave me, that’s what I carried out.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The difference between BUD/S and Ranger school was that BUD/S was very emotional and scary in a lot of ways. I learned a tremendous amount in Ranger school because I went into it pre-hardened from BUD/S. I just concentrated on what they were trying to teach me. I wasn’t worried at all. I was totally focused on what they [were teaching].

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’ll tell you one quick story if you want to hear it. We’d been out in the field for two weeks. We came back. We hadn’t showered for two weeks. You only really had one set of clothes — maybe two sets. I think that at that point in time, we had one set. We would take our socks off every night and lay them out so they could dry. I was a SEAL, and there was a whole story to this.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We would take our clothes off and lay them out so they’d dry. We were in Georgia. It was putrid after two weeks of sweating in the same clothes and laying in dirt. So, I laid my clothes out. Most guys would do that so that they’d dry and get some air. We were in from the field. So, we probably got about four hours of sleep that night.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We don’t sleep in racks. We just go out to the back on some gravel, and they say: “Go to sleep.” So, we go out there and go to sleep. As a SEAL — I know this is a lot of information — they don’t let us wear underwear. Underwear has elastic in it, which is petroleum-based. And if that comes in contact with oxygen — at least that’s the excuse they give us — it’s going to burn. We breathe pure oxygen when we do dives.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, the elastic in the underwear is petroleum-based?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: This is the excuse they give us.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I would think it would be because of chafing or something.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: See, I think that’s the real reason they don’t let us wear it. [But] we’re chafing by not wearing it. So, I get Ranger school, and I’m not wearing underwear. You get used to not wearing it. So, I take all my clothes off. I have this wubby — which is a heavy little blanket thing — and I’m wrapped up in it. But I’m totally naked. My clothes are over there. All the other guys have their skivvies and stuff on.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’m in dead sleep, dreaming beautifully, when I hear somebody yelling in the distance. I come out of my sleep, I look around and everybody is in the push-up position. The instructor is screaming at everybody because we’re supposed to take turns on watch throughout the night. There were 100 people in my ranger class. Every person does it for just a few minutes.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Inevitably, one guy will wake up, wake the other guy up and then they’ll both fall asleep. Then no watches for the rest of the night. And they’re supposed to go wake the instructor up. So, he’s out there. He’s going crazy. And there are still a couple of guys asleep. I am kind of dazed. I get in the push-up position. I have this blanket over me, and he’s making us do push-ups. That blanket falls off of me. I’m completely naked and doing push-ups. He’s talking, yelling and screaming.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: All of the sudden, he stops, looks over and goes: “What? Who is that? Is that the SEAL?” He looks over there, and I say: “Hooyah, instructor.” And he says: “All right. Everybody, just get up.” So, everybody was thanking me because I saved them from getting any more beatings that day. But it came at a price — which was really interesting. It’s a crazy story. When you’re in Ranger school — when you go through these types of situations — that sense of humor and making the most out of these situations is like life. That’s how you get through life. That’s how you get through these things.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: When I spoke to McB and started listening to some podcasts in preparation, that’s one thing that came up. You Navy SEALs have a sense of humor about the morbid. It’s funny after a while because there’s nothing that you can make fun of and laugh at.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: When we were in hell week, I looked over at my friend. Most people quit on Wednesday night. This is in SEAL training. We hadn’t slept since Sunday morning.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: You’re hallucinating. You’re seeing things. It’s craziness.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Crazy. And people get really sick. But for me, it was a huge awakening. I realized that night, when everyone was quitting. I was smiling, and my friend looked at me said: “Why are you smiling?” He thought I was hallucinating. And I said: “You know what? I know now — for sure — that there’s nothing they can do to make me quit. I will not quit. I am going to make this!” This was only the third or fifth week of training. I said: “I know I’m going to make this.” I was excited about it.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I looked over at my friend Scott — who had gotten pneumonia and some kind of weird infection. His head was as round as a basketball, and he was crying. I looked over at him, and he looked at me. I asked if he was okay, and he said: “I don’t know if I’m going to make it, man.” The difference between the two stories at that point … I never let him live that down.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: Oh, no. He made it through. He persevered.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: All the power to him.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: He was miserable the whole time. They will pull you out sometimes, give you antibiotics, sit you in a hot tub, or give you warm IVs to get your core body temperature back up. Then, they’ll ask — with donuts and coffee sitting in front of you — “Do you want to go back into training, or do you want to stay here?” Guys like Scott said: “I’m going back. Send me back.” So, he came back. 

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I was reading something about one part of hell week where they just stop at a certain point. I guess it’s when you’re done because they’ve found the 10% of the class — or less — who would rather die than quit. You’ve hit the point. There’s no stopping you.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: In hell week, they’ve determined that seven days is pretty much the max that a human being can go without sleep. They take us to almost six days. So, they take us right to the edge. We had a guy die when I was in training. I believe Gordon Racine is his name. This guy was in his 20s, and he died in the swimming pool while doing an exercise. That guy took his passion and willingness to serve his country to the bitter end. That’s who shows up.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Some of these country boys have never seen water before, and they don’t even how to swim. They’re going in and doing these insane…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Drown-proofing.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: The drown-proofing. And then the battle down at the bottom to get your gear off. It’s absolutely crazy. On YouTube, I watched some of these guys actually drown, and then the divers bring them up to the surface.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: That’s the 50-meter underwater swim — which is the thing that nobody talks about because it’s very quick. But next to hell week and pool comp, it’s probably the thing that gets the most people kicked out.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You have to jump in the water, do a front flip and you can’t surface. You’re going to lose air when you do that. Then, you have to swim to the other side of the pool — which is 25 meters. You can turn around and kick off that, and then come back. It’s on the way back that a lot of people pass out. As long as they touch the wall, they pass. So, if they’re out, it doesn’t matter if they’re knocked out or not. They won’t touch him for a few seconds. If they float and touch that wall, they pull them out, revive them and then they’ve passed.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: If not, they have to get back in there and do it again — which really sucks.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I was listening a podcast about Navy SEALs, and they were mentioning that pool comp was the worst possible thing to do.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Pool comp in and of itself is where you go through this comprehensive underwater test to show that you have been listening to what they’ve been teaching you. They do all these surf hits. They’ll come under water, twist you up, turn you around, rip your mask and vent off…

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I watched it. They basically wrestle you and beat you up. They beat the crap out of you.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s just like when you get caught in a wave in the ocean. You have to keep crawling. Eventually, what it comes down to is: Are you following instruction — even in a crisis situation? So, it comes down to the whammy. They’ll wrestle you all over the place and rip your regulator out of your mouth. At that point, you’re holding your breath. They let you know, and you take a huge breath. They rip that out of your mouth, spin you all over and then leave you alone — like you’re out of the wave.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You then have to then take your gear off in the way they instructed you to do — all while you’re holding your breath. You’ve already been wrestling around, so you’ve lost a tremendous amount of air. From that point, you have about a minute and a half before you’re going to go to the surface. And that’s after being tossed all over.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: So, you have to take your gear off in a certain way. You have to stow it on the bottom in a certain way, put your weight belt on there, take your tanks off, put it on there, and then you kiss the bottom of the pool and give a thumbs up. Or, you give an OK and a thumbs up so you can go up.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Then, the instructor comes down and inspects everything you’ve done. He makes sure that you tried to turn your air off. Then, he does something to you. You give him a thumbs up. If they really want to push it, they’ll sit there and just stare at you. Or, they’ll act like they saw something over there.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Meanwhile, you’re gasping and starting to choke because your body is trying to force you to breathe. It’s so bad that on the way up, they start punching you in the stomach to get any air so that your lungs don’t explode. Then, you come up. If you make it through that, then you’ve passed one of the three big tests in BUD/S.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Marcus Luttrell — when he was speaking about Lone Survivor — was talking about when all his men were killed. His back was broken, and he was struggling back to the village. He said: “This was worse than 20 hell weeks” — or something to that effect. Hell week doesn’t even do it. It didn’t even represent what reality was.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: All Marcus went through — if you saw the movie — happened during the day. But in reality, all of that was at night. He crawled for several days with a broken back. I think the biggest difference was that in BUD/S — even though we did have somebody die in training — you could quit at any time. You could say: “OK, that’s enough for me. I’m out.” You had the feeling that if you were to die, they were going to revive you.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: With Marcus and what he went through, there was no guarantee about anything. I think God really shined down on him that day when he was saved by a villager. If you’re like me, you don’t really have five friends. I’m kind of a loner. But if you have five friends — and I’m not talking about Facebook friends — or close relatives murdered in front of you, you get blown up and your back is broken, you have to choose: Do I crawl my way out of here — not knowing if you’re going to die while crawling — or do you just stay put and crawl up into that safe zone inside of you?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Marcus chose to crawl and get out of there. It’s pretty phenomenal when you try to envision that. I think he was talking about Axelson. It’s been a while since I went over that story. At one point, during the firefight, he looked up. Half of his head had been blown away, but he was still shooting! That’s the kind of focus that you have. When I talked about Ranger school after SEAL training, that was the type of focus you got from going through this interesting training. Even in these situations, you’re focused on what the mission is and what you have to achieve. That’s your focus.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Early on, we had Mark Geist — of Benghazi in 2012 — on the podcast. His left arm was blown off. It was holding on by a thread. It was hanging off 90 degrees, and he said: “I kept trying to flip it up and keep shooting.” It was absolutely astounding.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You know what you’re capable of doing in those situations. Human beings are like that. If I teach you how to change a tire on a car, and then you get a flat, you’re going to know how to change it — whether its winter or blistering outside. We go through these trainings in a similar way to pool comp. Or even the situation where I’m doing the push-ups naked.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You’re going through situations that are very difficult and learning how to function and use a set of skills in that type of environment. So, when you’re put in it, you’ll have guys who will pull their arms up and try to shoot or have half their heads blown off and still stay in the fight. Or they’ll crawl for three days to get back to safety. Like Marcus said, BUD/S doesn’t even compare.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: At BUD/S and Ranger school, they’re not giving you a fish. They’re teaching you how to fish. Then, when you’re in that environment, if you rise to the occasion and use your training, it pays off.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’re taking your mind and programing it differently. It must be comforting to know that when you face adversity throughout your life — because we all do — this training will kick in, and you’ll focus on the mission — whatever that might be.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If I’m in charge, yes. It’s very difficult to work in an environment where other people are in charge, and you see through their stress. You see through their desires for money or things like that. You see what the end goal is and where we are. I know standard operating procedures and task organization. And I understand all these things when I’m in a stressful environment. Regular civilians may not.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The hardest part for me is not being in charge of something. It’s being in charge of something and not trying to micromanage people. One thing I learned in the SEAL teams versus BUD/S is that being an officer in the SEALs is like trying to herd lions or wild pit bulls.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You can take 20 highly-trained individuals and teach them tactics that are OK. But if they do them to the best of their ability — and in a uniform, standardized manner — they’re going to be lethal.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You could teach all 20 guys how to do incredible things, but if they all want to do it themselves, it’s a miserable and failed experience. So, that’s the hardest part for me. People are just not interested in me teaching them that. The FBI and the Air Marshals were a horrendous experience because of that. That was the hardest part for me — watching people reinvent things that they just did a year ago. And now, they’re going to reinvent them and do the same mistakes over and over.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, I can definitely see that. You were a U.S. Navy SEAL for five years, correct?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: When I was Central South America working counter narcotics, 9/11 hadn’t happened. Then, it did happen. And they didn’t use us. Believe it or not, SEALs were not being deployed when it first happened. Well, some SEALs were. Dev Group was over there. Some of the West Coast teams were over there. But by and large, they were not being used until the war spun up for several years.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: At that point, I was older. I went through BUD/S at 28. I was in my 30s then. I knew that if I ever wanted to get into federal law enforcement — which was my end goal — I was going to have to jump at some point. The Air Marshals opened up, so I made that jump.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, the Air Marshals were after 9/11. I think you started in ’02.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yeah, in 2002.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: For those of you who don’t remember — or are a little too young — if you went on a plane after 9/11, your situational awareness [was high]. You were looking at everybody. I remember that I got on a plane and I was about 20 pounds heavier. I told the flight attendant: “Tell me where you want me to be, and I’ll be there.”

CHARLES MIZRAHI: You’re looking at everything. For most of the flight to California, I kept standing up and looking around. I was walking up and down the aisles. And you were the guy on the plane to prevent the next 9/11.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’ll tell you, there are two flights that I remember more than anything. We had crazy stuff happen. We definitely saw people targeting the planes.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: For instance, living in New York at that period of time, I got to know some people who were in the Hasidic community. We would have individuals who would come on planes half-dressed as people who were Hasidic or Orthodox.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Some of them wouldn’t even get on the plane. They would just walk around the airport and then leave. There were things that were happening. I remember one time where a man walked through the airport in Chicago with a red suitcase that had one wheel on it. He was dragging it all over the place.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: To me, that’s a sign of somebody who is trying to communicate. That’s an intel thing. He’s trying to say: “Here I am. I’m here. I’m doing this.” He’s trying to communicate with other people without communicating with them. There were a lot of oddities like that.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Before we go on, as an air marshal, are you on the plane first? Do you come on before the passengers?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I can’t get into that because those are those are classified tactics.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK. You have a weapon on you, right?


CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, if anything like this happens, no one knows who you are, and you have low-velocity bullets or something.


CHARLES MIZRAHI: You can take out any threat on the plane.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: [I have] regular bullets and a regular gun. That was another thing that we had to worry about. If I shoot a skinny terrorist, is it going to go through him and hit grandma? Is it going to puncture hole in the side of a plane? That isn’t as dangerous as you think. It can cause a loss of air pressure, but it’s probably not going to be catastrophic.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: But you have to wonder [what could happen] if the terrorist is in front of you and you shoot at them. If you miss — or if you hit them and it goes through them — what if it hits a pilot? You had to be very tactically-proficient in that job. Sometimes, I questioned some of the people that they let through there. But overall, I was qualified. I knew I was ready.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I started going to Israel in 1985. That was my first trip. Israel always had air marshals.


CHARLES MIZRAHI: We used to try to pick out the air marshals. We were always wrong. We never picked them out. We’d say [it was] that guy because he didn’t sleep. Or that guy. We woke up, and we found out that they weren’t the air marshal. We couldn’t pick him out.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: On one flight, we went to Israel. We were the only people on the plane. It wasn’t a charter flight, so you knew who the guy was. I would never have picked this guy to be an air marshal. He was totally unassuming. He looked like an old grandfather type. This guy was the real deal, and you would never know. It was absolutely seamless. I think all El Al [flights] had air marshals. I don’t know. You’d know that much better than me.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Israel does things because they’re effective or needed. Israel and El Al profile people.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: They ask questions. They put people on a plane using a firearm that’s adequate for that job. They pick people who are unassuming. In the United States, we could throw thousands of air marshals on a plane, and we won’t screen them properly. Maybe they’re hiring them because of racial quotas. They don’t think tactically at all.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: Even the firearm that we carried was not an appropriate gun for that.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: A friend of mine in the Israeli army told me that they have low-velocity bullets — special guns designed for that. It doesn’t ricochet as much. Of course, he couldn’t tell me everything. But you’re fighting in a tube in the sky with little children and old people. The accuracy, you know? I’m a civilian. I’m going on. You’re questioned. “Did you did you pack the suitcase? Was it ever out of your sight? Where are you going?”

CHARLES MIZRAHI: They questioned one of my sons, and they started speaking to him in Hebrew. He didn’t look like he ever went to Israel before, but they started speaking to him in Hebrew. And he responded. He goes, “We just wanted to make sure.” All these little cues.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I asked a friend of mine — who happened to be in the Israeli army at the time. I could have said anything. He goes: “No, no. They’re watching your respiration. They’re watching your eyes. They’re watching how you carry yourself. So, don’t worry. You’re not getting by them.” And they’re highly trained. They put a sticker with their name on your bag. It’s their responsibility. If anything ever happens, it’s on their watch.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s statement analysis. Polygraphers use the same thing. They do a polygraph. It’s not so much the machine. It’s the interview. And then, it’s the machine after the interview. So, they can measure your responses to these things. That’s the way that these interviewers — who profile — work.

JONATHAN GILLIAM We’ve gotten to a point in this nation where we do things that are absolutely mind-boggling, ridiculous or incompetent strictly because we want to make people feel good. They think that safety takes second base to that. But if you want to be free, you have to be secure.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I could talk about how good an effective Israel is as opposed to the United States. It all comes down to this repetitive political and media narrative that in order to be equal, reality should not matter. It doesn’t matter if there’s a threat by this group of people. It doesn’t matter if the majority of people that are killing individuals in this nation are doing it with guns that they got illegally. They’re not going to focus on that. They’re going to focus on the things that make them or their constituents feel good. In Israel, that’s not the case.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I remember that right after 9/11, they had all these things. These guys could never have gotten on the plane. They would have been shut down as they bought the ticket because Israel immediately knows everything about you as soon as you buy a ticket. They saw one-way tickets, no luggage, males, Arabs and the countries that they came from or previously went to. Insane. And here, they went on the plane, sat in first class, or right near the captain, and that’s it. We paid the price.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We paid the price. They were sure to ask that day. I’m sure all those terrorists on 9/11 were asked: “Did you carry your luggage in? Did you ever let anybody else touch it?” They were useless questions. And then they were screened at the security screening like everyone else. But that’s not how they got all the knives onboard. In that day and age — and even now — the biggest problem we have is smoke and mirrors.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: They will do things. And trust me, I’ve been privy to this when running the special events unit for the FBI in New York. For all these different events, I was the guy on the ground doing the threat assessments and communicating with other departments, agencies and civilian companies.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s shocking how comfortable we are with smoke and mirrors. Let’s appease these people. Let’s make it look like it’s safe, so the bad guys won’t do anything here. That’s the way most people think. It’s a very dangerous way to be.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Israel is not like that. If somebody pulls up to a bus stop, gets out of the car and starts checking the engine, people are going to notify authorities and get away from there. They don’t have to be told.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I remember driving to work one time in my Bureau car. I had to go through Times Square to get to the office. And the mayor — Bloomberg — was giving a press conference surrounded by his bodyguards and their Hercules team — which is guys who are all armored.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Literally 50 yards away, a guy was working on his car. He was working on it with a hood up. I was shocked. Nobody was even looking at him. I finally pulled up and asked one of the officers: “Does anybody see that guy working on his vehicle right where a bomb almost went off a year ago?” They went over and questioned the guy. I just got out of there. But that’s the way we are in this nation. We’re so focused on smoke and mirrors and what this popular politician is saying that we don’t even realize the reality of the threat.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Back in 2010, we went to the Dominican Republic. We had five kids, my wife and me. They pulled my wife aside for a thorough body search — just as a random thing. I said: “Who thought this made any sense?” Right after us, there was a 90-year-old lady in a wheelchair who they made get up. I just didn’t get it.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s funny that you bring up the Dominican Republic because it’s a perfect example of the way we live in this country. You go there, stay on the compound — or whatever hotel you’re at — and everybody has a great time. They love it. They think: “I can’t wait to get back here.” But if they were to step even a mile away from that place, they would never want to come back.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: They tell you not to leave. They tell you: “Do not leave the compound.” I always walked around the whole thing at sunrise. It was a Club Med. Guards were all over these areas. I didn’t know anything about that. I said: “I want to go out jogging over there.” And they said: “No, no, no. You stay here.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: In the United States, all the people who protest and say that cops shooting Black people…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If they spent a night at the 75th precinct in New York — where automatic weapons are firing into the sky every night — they might see things a bit differently. Their protests never go into the inner city. Some of them might see things differently. But it’s very similar.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Did you see that just a couple of months ago, a two-year-old was shot at a birthday party — by a stray bullet?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: At a McDonald’s in Chicago, a little girl was shot and killed. And her dad. What we’re going through in this nation — and the nonsense that’s spilling out…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: After going through all the stuff that I’ve gone through, seeing what the reality of freedom is and what it takes to sustain that freedom — the majority of people that are born here never do anything to earn their freedom or protect it. In fact, they are utilized by power-hungry leftists and other individuals to carry out their subversive rhetoric and echo chambers.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s one thing to live in the suburbs and talk about police brutality. It’s another thing to live in the inner city. It’s those people who need the police! They’re getting killed! It’s really screwed up.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: When they did away with stop and frisk, which I talk about in Sheep No More

CHARLES MIZRAHI: It worked amazingly well.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If you’re a bad guy, you know that you could be caught any time. They publicly did away with that. It was a public announcement to bad people that if they carried an illegal weapon, they’d be fine.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, that was just amazing. I remember back in the day, a paranoid friend of ours never liked the E-ZPass. He said: “They follow you.” First of all, I said: “Who’s they?” And he said: “The government.” But if you’re not doing anything, then why am I worried about that? Why would I care? If it’s for my safety and my family’s safety…

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Where does this scale tip? My privacy or safety? Safety wins every single time!

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s funny that you bring that up. Everybody’s always worried about what the NSA, FBI or CIA are looking at. In reality, the only people in government who are that are obsessed with what everyone is thinking and doing are the politicians and the people that they appoint.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The rest of the government is people who are busy doing their jobs. If you really want to be scared — whether the Patriot Act was here or not — every time I got a warrant to get a Title III to listen to what somebody was doing — or if one of my friends, who was on counterterrorism, got a FISA warrant — that’s the secret warrant so that they can go to listening devices or follow somebody — we didn’t go to the NSA to get that information. We went to Verizon or AT&T. We went to the cable companies. We went to OnStar for Chevy.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Those companies collect every bit of the information that the NSA gets. It’s not the NSA you should be worried about. It’s Silicon Valley and Google that watch. They watch everything that you do.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If you haven’t gone on Netflix — because a lot of people haven’t — I would go on and watch two shows. I forget what they’re called, but they’re about social media. The Social Dilemma is one, and I can’t remember the other. These are people from Silicon Valley who won’t even let their children use any social media because everything is tracked.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I watched one of them. I think it was the first one — The Social Dilemma. They showed how the algorithms worked. “Since you watched this on Instagram, odds are you’re going to watch this. Let me show you this one. Yes, success!” It’s scary.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I tweeted this out last night, and I knew when I was tweeting it that it might be a little controversial. But people have actually responded quite well. These mass shootings are now happening at a blistering pace. Human beings have free will. So, when human beings are present a repeated behavior among a large group of people, you know that there’s a popular influence somewhere. Somebody is influencing the masses. I challenge people to stop and ask: “What is it that has influenced people to do this many mass shootings in the past two months?”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s not gun rights. It’s not conservatism or the Republican Party. Something is being pumped into people’s brains — crazy or not. And they are repeating a behavior that’s not natural to human beings. Killing — regardless of what people think — is not a natural behavior for a human being to do to somebody else. It takes a tremendous amount of will to take the life of one or more people. This is a behavior that’s being repeated over and over.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I can’t help but think that there’s some kind of controlled influence happening on people — as crazy as that sounds. Some kind of controlled influence is occurring in this nation to cause this. It’s just too uniform.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: When you say controlled, you’re not talking about The Manchurian Candidate or brainwashing, right? What are you talking about?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I don’t know. You know the comedians who hypnotize people on stage? I actually went onstage once. It didn’t work on me. I know somebody that it did work on. It took about a minute for them to not be able to open their mouth. The comedian said: “The harder you try to open your mouth and say something, the harder it will be for you to open your mouth.” And it freaked him out.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: For 20 years or more, we’ve been inundated by indoctrination through television. Social media has gone exponentially faster. The Department of Education is a leftist entity. All of these things are occurring, and they’re repeating the same narratives over and over again. It’s in video games as well. I can’t help but think that there’s some message in there that’s getting into people’s brains. If they have some type of issue with their minds, or they’re substance abusers — something is reacting.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: When I say controlled, I mean that narrative is controlled. I’m not saying they have a remote or are saying a key word on television that’s going to key people in to go shoot. But I do believe that the control of this narrative — that’s pumped out consistently — is false. It’s used to control people. It’s just like The Social Dilemma, where they use algorithms to get us to do certain things.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: They get us to respond in certain ways. They know that if you do ABCD, there’s a 95% probability that you’ll do E.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If you’ve ever texted somebody, and you see the three dots at the bottom of the screen — they created that to keep you engaged in the conversation. That’s a form of programing. Those three dots are one little thing. We’re talking about every person that ever owns a phone. If you see those three dots, you’re not going to turn your phone off and put it down. You’re going to sit there with your phone in your face.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If they can do it that easily, something is going on in people’s programming to the point where their concept of life and death — and their urge to kill versus their urge to work it out — is totally off the charts.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’ve been programed. Marcus Luttrell was programed. A normal human being is going to curl up and say: “I quit” after having their back broken and seeing five people murdered. He was programed not to quit. He kept going. I think something happened along the way.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: If this was about 20 years ago, I’d be laughing at you. But when you look at the information that’s out there, all the people who said: “They’re following us,” and “I’m being tracked,” were right.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It may not be the government!

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I don’t care who it is! They always said: “They’re following me.” Paranoid people were considered a little off.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The other show that blew me away was TURN. That’s the show on Netflix about the revolution and Washington spies.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Right. I was thinking of The Americans.


CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yes. This was the turn of the Revolutionary War.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: This show is about the Culper Ring. It’s about the spy ring for George Washington.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yeah. The thing that hit me about that was the reason for the Third Amendment being created. We all know the First Amendment about free speech. The Second Amendment is about the right to bear arms — the bodyguard of all the other amendments. The Third Amendment says there will be no quartering in your home. These days, people say: “Quartering? What is that? I’m not worried about a soldier living in my house.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: But they don’t realize that the marriage between Silicon Valley and the government is such that they are quartering in your home. They can through this device right here, or the computers that we’re on, and spread social norms that are created by them to the point where you’re afraid to say [something].

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I remember talking about Vicks VapoRub to somebody because they didn’t feel good. Then, I went on Instagram and there was a commercial for Vicks VapoRub on Instagram. You can ruin your life because you text the wrong thing. You can go on a social media site and [connect with] all your friends from high school. You say the wrong thing, and boom — you’re gone. You’re never to communicate with those people again.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: They are quartering in your home right now — whether you realize it or not. I was watching that show and saw that British soldier tell the family: “I don’t think that this conversation is appropriate. You need to change this conversation.” I was like: “Wow, that just happened to me in my own home — but in a different form.” It’s in electronic form.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Alexa. Ask Alexa.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I made my mom take her Alexa and throw it out the door. I wouldn’t allow that in her house.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I could definitely speak to you for hours, but I want to get right to your book: Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival. Here it is — right behind you. It’s been called the definitive safety Bible. Why did you write this book?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I realized this when I was working for AMT — after I left the Air Marshals. I created a soft target awareness course for Homeland Security. They gave us the course. It was a contracting firm of all former SEALs and other military special forces. They said: “We want you to teach this course.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: They had already created it. It was created to go to people and say: “If an attack happens, here’s how you should react.” My complaint with that was that what good did that do? That’s really a first responder [response] — dealing with something after it occurs. How do we prevent these things from happening? How do we really give people the knowledge to prevent attacks? So, they let me finish it. I turned it into a course where I taught people about all these different soft targets — stadiums, arenas, churches, synagogues, malls, theaters and tall buildings.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We would bring the managers in, and I would teach them how to look at themselves and their facilities from the attacker’s point of view. What we got back from this was pretty amazing. At the time, President Bush would get a review of these courses and would get the statistics about it. That was huge. That was in 2003 and 2004. It was making a huge difference.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I left to go to the FBI in 2005, and that course immediately stopped because the powers that were didn’t have the push that I had. I just wouldn’t quit with the course. I argued for it. So, when I left, they stopped it. I heard about that and said: “You know what? I need to write a book.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: But I didn’t start writing the book until 2013. I basically wanted to teach people the same things that I taught those executives. I learned through the FBI that there was this huge chasm from my knowledge to law enforcement — and then from law enforcement to civilians. My experience with civilians was like trying to teach a five-year-old how to secure their home.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Give me give me an example for a second. You’re here. You’re at top of the food chain in terms of knowledge and experience. I’m a civilian. You’re looking at the entrance to my building. What am I seeing, and what are you seeing? Tell me what I’m seeing first.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You’re seeing the door that you enter into to go to work.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’m looking at that. I’m looking at the counter where they make you sign in if you’re a guest. I’m also looking at the banks of elevators, turnstile and my badge.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’m looking at the location that the majority of people will amass at a certain time of the day. I could sit there and watch it in the morning. People are going to flow in in the morning. But by and large, in the afternoon or at the end of the day, that bottleneck is going to be the most populated area of attack for that building.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: If somebody important comes in, I know where they’re going to enter and exit. If they do enter, then that’s probably where they’re going to exit. That becomes a big bottleneck. That’s the way I look at this — from the attacker’s point of view.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Hang on a second. If at 5:15, most people in the office come down in the elevators and get bottled up near the turnstiles — let’s just say that’s where the bottleneck occurs — you’re focusing on that because that’s where you have the most amount of people. That’s where someone could get in and out without any type of attention being drawn to them. And that’s where an attack can take place.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: That’s a critical area. The critical time would be 5:15. The critical assets are the people. The vulnerability is that it’s a bottleneck. The avenue of approach is to walk straight in. So, I’d be getting as close to that as I could with an explosive, gun or a knife. That’s the way I look at everything. I look at my life like that when I go to the movies, sit in my own home or drive down the road on a motorcycle. Where and when could I have an accident? It could be somebody coming out from a side road or something like that.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s not just terrorist attackers. It could be a rapist. It could be a pedophile. And here’s the interesting thing I talk about the book: A SEAL is a direct-action attacker. A rapist — or somebody who’s going to carry out a terrorist attack or rob you — has a direct-action mission. They study the tactics, wait for an opportunity and strike.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: A CIA agent is somebody who goes out…

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Let’s say this picture behind me is a nuclear power plant in Iran. They don’t need to take the whole thing down. You see my eyeball right here. Let’s say that it’s a critical area in the nuclear power plant. They’ll spend a tremendous amount of time recruiting somebody who works in the area, develop a relationship with them and slowly work their way into that person so they can flip them and get them to do their work for them.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: That’s the way a pedophile works. A pedophile will go to church and school meetings. They’ll befriend families and slowly work their way in. They’re just looking for a child. They’re not interested in the family. They’ll work their way in using the same type of long-term assault. It’s an attack. It’s the same thing.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The book shows you how you can structure your outlook in each sector of your life and say: “If I was an attacker, who would attack this? Why would you want to attack my family or home?” Maybe you have money, a nice car or a child. Those are two different attacks. Then, you look at them and ask: “What’s the critical asset? The car? The child? Who is the most likely person — a pedophile or a robber? Is this a direct action? This is a long-term attack right here.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: We start looking at the avenues of approach — the best time, location or [point of access]. You can do that with every single aspect of your life. And once you do that, it becomes a switch.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You don’t have to follow this long, drawn-out plan every time. You can walk in somewhere and say: “OK. I’m at a concert. There’s little I can do at this point. But I know that most attacks at concerts happen outside. And they typically happen right before or after an event. So, I’m going to wait 10 minutes until this is over or leave 10 minutes before everybody else. I’m probably going to be safe. And I’m going to exit from this area because everybody else comes out here.” You’re doing that because you’re thinking like an attacker.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Without even reading your book — before I even met you — every time I went to a movie theater, I always knew where the two exits were. I always sat within a crow’s-flight distance, where I could just run straight out. It always frightened me — ever since I was a little kid. It’s a dark space. Anything could happen, and you wouldn’t see it coming.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I always used to sit in the back, but most people sit in the middle. I always sit on the end seat, and I’m always facing an exit. I know if it’s in front of me or to the side of me. I can see it. It’s just the way my brain works. It’s worked that way since I was a kid. I was a scaredy cat. I’m always scanning the crowd. My kids ask: “Why don’t you sit in the middle?” And I say: “I can’t sit in the middle. I could be boxed in and have nowhere to run if there’s an attack.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I always think like that as well. But what I’m also thinking is: If I’m the attacker, where am I going to enter, and how am I going to carry out the attack?” It’s hard for people to think that way, once they realize that, they can start working backwards.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: For years, I used to drive back and forth to the city in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. They changed that name to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel. All you have to do is pull your car off to the side or stop it in the middle of the tunnel, and it’s backed up for miles! And you’re in a tube — a mile-long tube! Thank God. And thank whoever is protecting us that there has never been an attack in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel because we’re sitting ducks.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: When Chris Christie did that thing where he shut down the bridge … it was dangerous because it would have taken one person with a gun. The cops couldn’t have gotten to you. You could have killed thousands of people on that bridge.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Scary as hell.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Do this with your wife or your kids at night and with all the lights off — like in a movie theater. I want you to get the brightest flashlight. I don’t have one with me, but they now make flashlights that are super small and bright. Take a Nerf gun or a rolled-up sock, come into the room and say: “I’m going to attack you.” Have them hide and hit you in the face with the flashlight. Have them turn it on right in your eyes. It’s going to be difficult for you to see what to do. You could hold the light out here — where it’s not next to your face. It’s something simple from a defensive standpoint.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I know that if I went to a theater, I would roll left or right when I walked in there because that’s where people would be. I’d start mowing people down. If you have a flashlight, and you hit that person in the eye, it’s going to give you a millisecond. You might be able to get down. You might be able to dart toward a door. They might actually come at you with the weapon, which allows other people to get out of there — if you want to be a hero in that case. But the fact is, there are things that you can do — even in a theater where it’s dark and you’re vulnerable.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: The thing that you really have to get behind is: You have to be aware. You have to be able to walk into a place and say: “There’s always a potential for something.” The probability of you winning the lottery is slim, but the possibility is 100%. It’s just as possible for you to win as it is for me. So, you have to look at the fact that you’re going to this movie theater, and it’s 100% possible. It could happen. “What am I going to do?” Have it in your brain. “If I was going to attack, where would I come from? Probably here. OK, so that means I have to go this way. I have to move.”

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It’s good to know things. If you ever get caught in a crossfire, if you can get into a hole 14 inches or deeper, your survivability goes up over 50%. You need to know things like that. Don’t go next to a wall if they’re shooting. If you see somebody with a knife, don’t stand there. You’re less likely to survive a stabbing than you are a gunshot, believe it or not. These are things that you should understand.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I remember being in a movie theater, and there was a guy who was making all kinds of noise. People didn’t want to be bothered by it. They just said: “Shut up!” I went down there, and he was having an insulin attack. The guy was out of it. We ended up getting him out of there. He probably would have died had we not done something about it. I’m aware that that’s not normal. And that’s the biggest thing.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’ll just say this one other thing. Whether it’s The Adventures of Team Little Bigs — which is the other book I wrote for children — or Sheep No More, awareness is the greatest thing you can teach and learn. I don’t need to teach you how to be a Special Forces guy. If you’re aware and you have an idea of where bad things can happen, you are most likely going to make it out OK.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: That’s the biggest part in life. You’re not going to be swindled by somebody. You’re not going to get caught up in scandal. If something does occur, your first reaction isn’t going to be to hide and quiver. If you’re aware, you’re going to act versus react.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: You’re spot on. When I travel to other cities, they know by the way I carry myself that I’m from New York. We happen to be more aware. New Yorkers, in general, are more aware of their surroundings. You have a different swagger. You have a different thing. You’re not going to be swindled. We’re a little sharper because of the amounts of people in our communities, stimulus and exposure. It’s not like living out in the country — where you’re not exposed. I happened to go to Palm Beach a couple of years ago —

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Wait, wait, wait. A New Yorker went to Palm Beach?

CHARLES MIZRAHI: It was on business. The Uber driver said: “You have to be careful over here because there are drug addicts and halfway houses.” And I said: “Hey, I’m from New York.” So, he said: “Forget it. I don’t have to tell you.” No one’s going to walk up to me and try to swindle me. We have a kind of awareness of what’s going on. I think that kids today are starting to pick that up on that in a really big way. The way I see it, they’re not as naive as I was growing up.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I would say [they are] in certain areas. They’re much more street-smart. But I think children today — when it comes to awareness of the political games — are being scammed left and right. Social media and Hollywood — especially social media and Silicon Valley — have destroyed children’s ability to discern. Is there an evil from good or corruption from people who are trying to do good things? They don’t have the ability to discern that anymore.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, it’s getting tough. The book is: Sheep No More. It had zillions of great reviews on there. How long has that book been out? A year or two?

JONATHAN GILLIAM: It came out December 2017.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow. So, you probably have amazing stories from people writing into you about how your book saved them.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Oh, it’s unbelievable. The best story was probably from a guy who called in when I was hosting the Sean Hannity radio show. A guy called in and said his 10-year-old son had read it — which I don’t know what that says about my writing abilities.


JONATHAN GILLIAM: Actually, I wrote it so that anybody could read it. Now, he goes around and makes sure that the doors are locked — in the car and house — and the windows are shut at night. He’s not just doing that because it’s a habit. He’s aware of who would attack, how they would do it, when it would occur and the avenue of approach. He’s aware of that — at 10 years old. He’s not scared. He’s not afraid. He does what he needs to do to counter those things. And he’s aware of what his actions will be if it happens.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: What I like about your book is that it’s not rocket science. And I say that with total praise. There’s nothing there that the average person can’t do. You just make readers aware of what to do. And it’s not to go out and buy a gun. We live in New York. We’re not allowed to have guns. Only criminals own them. What I liked about the book was that it was simple. I don’t have to remember 50 different things to do. I think the brilliance of it is that it’s common sense — but we don’t think that way.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: In New York City, they have a habit of putting a housing project in the middle of high-income homes. When I talk about how people are not realistic — where do you think all the crime is going to be? It’s going to be right there. Where I used to live — over on West End Avenue — to get from the train at Lincoln Center, you had to walk through the Lincoln Center projects.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: By and large, the crime that happened there — about three murders a year — would happen to people who lived there. But all these people would walk through there from the train to get to higher-income buildings. Every once in a while, you would have somebody that was raped or mugged. And it was a surprise to them.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I talked to a girl who was a very famous Russian dancer and got mugged. She was shocked. I asked her: You’ve been all over the world, right?” And she said: “Yeah.” So, I said: “What would make you think that that was a safe way to walk — when you could have gone a block down and around, and you would have been fine?” She said: “I was just comfortable.” New York has changed, but you take for granted that it’s safe. You should never take anything for granted.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: There are so many people around. But when you need them, they’re not there.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Attackers don’t sit around and say: “I guess I’ll attack right now.” They sit around and study the environment. They know that there are probably 10,000 girls who walk through there a day. But they know which ones have expensive purses. That’s what they target — and they target at very specific times.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Right, beautiful. Jonathan Gilliam, we have to have you back on the show because I could speak to for hours. It’s phenomenal. Excellent stuff. I love it. The book is Sheep No More. If you don’t have a copy, go out and get one. Give it to your wife. Give it to your kids.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: I know I told you I bought your book for my grandchildren. One is 4.5 years old. I was amazed at how engrossed she was in the pictures — because the book has no words. There you go. The Adventures of Team Little Bigs. Great stuff. My daughter’s printing out the lesson plans. It could save your life — and the lives of those around you. And it only costs $10 or $15.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: Yeah. The other thing about this book is that there are no words in it. As it turns out, it’s gotten great reviews from people who have autistic children or children with learning disabilities. The lessons — don’t lie to your parents, and don’t play behind a car — are in pictures. So, they can learn from the pictures. That was the whole gist of this.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: This book — Sheep No More — teaches a 10-year-old and above. But how do I teach young children — when they’re sponges — how to be aware? It was a step toward putting that knowledge in them at a young age while also reminding the parents that they should probably check behind their cars before they go backward. There are so many tragedies in the lesson plans, which are written for adults. I don’t just say: “Teach your kid not to play behind a car.” I tell them a story. I know somebody who has had a tragedy.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s a tragic thing. Jonathan Gilliam, thanks so much. This has been absolutely great. We have to have you back on the show in the future. I loved it, man. I’m glad you’re on our side. I tell you that right now.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: I’m glad you are, too.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Great, man. Thanks so much.

JONATHAN GILLIAM: You’ve got it, brother. Thank you.

CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Charles Mizrahi Show. If you’re a new listener, welcome! If you’ve been listening for a while, we’re glad to have you back. Either way, we’d love to know what you think of the show. Please leave a review if you listen on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make it easier for others to find the show. You can also see the video of the interview on The Charles Mizrahi Show channel on YouTube.

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