Cody Wilson develops software that would allow anyone with the funding to easily build a gun from the comfort of their own home.
There used to be an order to the world and a structure to things. You couldn’t print a gun like a term paper. It was impossible to wreck a nuclear production plant with a few lines of code. Flying robots didn’t descend on you in the dead of night and kill you in your home.
But that order has been upended. Cheap videos in California help spark riots in Cairo. Lynchpins of the Middle East now rant about ‘Planet of the Apes’ in public, and Iranian generals trash-talk David Petraeus over SMS. The world has gone a little haywire — sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Here are our choices for the 15 people most responsible for making it that way.
15. Paula Broadwell
One day you’re pitching a biography of a top general. The next you’ve brought down a CIA director, stalled the career of another top general and ensnared numerous federal agencies — and yourself — in a sprawling investigation-cum-media circus. Paula Broadwell didn’t mean to wreck any careers, but she accomplished something that no U.S. adversary could: remove David Petraeus from the U.S. government.
14. Cody Wilson
Cody Wilson, a 24-year-old law student at the University of Texas, didn’t invent the concept of printable, downloadable guns. He’s only created the first platform devoted to sharing the blueprints online for free to anyone who wants one, anywhere in the world, at any time. Wilson and his group of amateur gunsmiths, known as Defense Distributed, are also currently working on producing what may become the world’s first fully 3-D printed gun, which they call the “Wiki Weapon.” If it’s successful, and on a long enough timeline, it could change the way we look at guns — and make them.
13. and 12. Matthew Dooley and Mark Basseley Yousef
Mark Basseley Yousef is a man of many names (Kritbag Difrat, P.J. Tobacco, Nikoula Basseley Nakoula) and one dubious accomplishment: producing a film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that went viral and prompted riots around the Middle East for its disrespectful portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. As much as Yousef sought to cast Islam in a negative light — something repudiated by his movie’s cast and crew — Yousef’s own criminal antics quickly overshadowed his creation. He’s been jailed for charges related tomanufacturing PCP and using false names for fraudulent checks. After he used the name “Sam Bacile” to help produce “The Innocence of Muslims,” a judge ruled Yousef violated the terms of his probation and sent him back to jail in September.
Army Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley didn’t do nearly as much damage to U.S. foreign policy. But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs didn’t take any chances after learning in March that Dooley taught a course for senior military officers that mused about a “total war” on Islam — including “Hiroshima” tactics against Islam’s holiest cities. Gen. Martin Dempsey suspended the elective course at the Joint Forces Staff College, calling it “totally objectionable,” and ordered a comprehensive review of military education to weed out similar material. Dooley, a formerly well-regarded officer, got an administrative reprimand and was shipped out to a bureaucratic backwaterof the Army. His defenders have threatened to sue Dempsey and portray Dooley as a free-speech martyr, but so far their threats have been about as substantial as Yousef’s multiple identities. Still, Dooley and Yousef showed that random Islam haters can leave a huge impact.
11. and 10. The Stealth Jet Whistleblowers
The F-22 Raptor is supposed to be the future of the U.S. Air Force — stealthy, lethal, and generations ahead of any dogfighter on the planet. But that future was called into question in 2010, when one of the stealth fighters crashed under mysterious circumstances in Alaska, killing pilot Capt. Jeffrey Haney. Citing problems with the planes’ oxygen systems that were choking the pilots, the following May the Air Force temporarily grounded all 180-plus Raptors, depriving the U.S. of nearly half of its front-line air-defense force.
In a hurry to get its most high-tech plane back in the air, the flying branch blamed “contaminants” and hastily installed an extra charcoal filter in the F-22s. The $400 million Raptors went back into action. That’s when Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson, both experienced Raptor fliers with the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing, blew the whistle. With the support of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), himself an Air Force pilot, Gordon and Wilson told 60 Minutes that the F-22’s problems had not been solved.
9. Ahmed Abu Khattala
Ahmed Abu Khattala may not have played any role in the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. But he represents its enduring message: He mocked the impotence it projected about the United States.
8. Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky, is the Russian cybersecurity mogul who runs one of the planet’s largest and most sophisticated malware-fighting firms. And if all he did in the last year was intercede in America’s efforts to short-circuit Iran’s nuclear ambitions — definitively unmasking a cyber weapon for the first time — Kaspersky would’ve earned himself a spot on our list of the most dangerous people in the world.
7. The Men Behind the China Aviation Industry Corporation
The state-owned China Aviation Industry Corporation (CAIC) is fast growing into one of the world’s leading makers of military aircraft. And the implications to the international order of that growth are enormous. The accomplishments of the CAIC were overseen by a small and publicity-shy cabal of world-class engineers and managers. Yang Wei, at 49 regarded as China’s leading fighter-designer, directed the continued development of the J-20’s radar-evading features. Luo Yang, 51, managed the J-15’s high-stakes carrier flights. Both men answered to Lin Zuoming, a 55-year-old legend of Chinese industry who heads CAIC.
6. Sheikh Ahmed Madobe
America mostly relies on allied nations, mercenaries, militias and other proxies to wage its secretive African shadow wars. Things can get confusing when the proxies have proxies of their own. None of these front men is more powerful, and potentially dangerous, than Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, commander of the Somali Ras Kamboni Brigade militia. In late September, U.S.-backed Kenyan forces assaulted the southern Somali port city of Kismayo, the last stronghold of the al-Qaida-affiliated terror group Al Shabab. The air- and sea-based Kenyan attack was a triumph for the new American way of war, which provides cash and technical support but relies on proxy forces to do the main fighting and dying.
5. Mohamed Morsi
In the span of a few weeks, Egypt’s new president stopped a war on his borders, gave himself nearly dictatorial powers, and then relinquished them. Egypt is supposed to be the bedrock of stability in the Mideast, a predictable and sober force against chaos and bellicosity stretching from Gaza to Israel to Syria to Iran. But if you can predict Mohamed Morsi’s behavior, please clue us in.
4. John Brennan
This is the deadliest man in the U.S. government. John Brennan doesn’t command any armies. But as President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, he’s arguably more powerful than the generals who do. Brennan runs the shadow wars against al-Qaida, a global campaign of lethal drone strikes and command raids.
3. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman
Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez — the formerly so-called “Murder Capital of the World” — saw its murder rate plummet in 2012. Local authorities say that’s because they’ve clamped down on crime. But another theory is that there are now fewer people left for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to kill. But it wasn’t just brutality that made El Chapo, the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin and CEO, emerge as the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. He’s a keen businessman who has turned a criminal organization into a global, vertically integrated corporation. El Chapo’s empire is the Costco of cocaine.
2. Bashar Assad
There was a brief period of national optimism in the summer of 2000 when Bashar Assad, then 34, took over Syria following the death of his father, longtime president Hafez Assad in June. The junior Assad, a member of Syria’s minority Alawite clan, signaled a willingness to embrace democratic reforms. Civil society groups sprang up, dissidents spoke out and the country’s intelligentsia penned a document demanding multiple political parties and limits on the police and military.
1. Qassem Suleimani
As the country most likely to spark a world war, Iran has to be considered the most dangerous country on the planet. And if you were looking for the most dangerous man in that most dangerous country, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as ruthless and mysterious as Gen. Qassem Suleimani. Since Suleimani’s promotion in the late 1990s to head the Quds Force — the combination special forces and CIA-styled group within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — he’s unleashed terror against U.S. forces in Iraq; and in 2012, expanded Tehran’s military aid to Assad while becoming the focus of rumors over who will become Iran’s next leader.