More Girls and Women Are Joining Violent Groups And Here’s Why

Violent extremists are masterminds at exploiting empathy and giving girls and women a false sense of hope. Over the past five years, an astonishing number of girls and women have joined violent groups. Statistically, the numbers are low and no more than fifty females have tried to join ISIS or offer ideological, material, and financial support. While the number may seem low, it is a sign that the … [Read more...]

What Does Islam Say About Mercy?

  One of the most meaningful messages I have received from Muslim scholars is the concept of God's mercy and His forgiveness. There are numerous words in Arabic for mercy, although two words that appear frequently in the Quran are: Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, which mean "The Most Gracious" and "The Most Merciful." In my line of work, as a Muslim woman countering violent extremism, I explain that … [Read more...]

Why American Muslims Celebrate The Fourth of July

American Muslims celebrate the fourth of July for the most obvious reason: they, too, are grateful to be here. There are many reasons to celebrate this glorious holiday. As an American woman, I grew up here. I spent my childhood in Texas and then moved to Washington, DC for graduate school and government work. This is the number one reason former immigrants like myself honor the national holiday: … [Read more...]

Conflict in America: Children Separated From Their Families Sparks Ongoing Immigration Debate

  Stories of children separated from their families is heart-breaking enough in conflicts around the world, but this time, it's happening right here in America. And it gets worse. There is a plethora of first-hand reporting and interviews of the trauma and terrible incidents taking place in US-funded centers for immigrant children, such as forcing children to take drugs. See video … [Read more...]

The Forever War in Kashmir Is Marked By Shame And Trauma

The Kashmir conflict has become the forever war, a place where suffering is increasingly psychological and people marked by shame, fear, alienation, anguish, stress, trauma and unimaginable loneliness. It is here in "paradise on earth" that I discovered the most memorable women. I'm often amazed at how meeting one person at one time in one place can change you. In an earlier post, I wrote a … [Read more...]

If Islam Is A Loving, Peaceful Religion, Then Why Do Muslims Kill?

It's an oft-repeated question: If Islam is a loving, peaceful religion, then why do some Muslims kill? For nearly 20 years, as a researcher first then a counter-terrorism analyst, I have tried to answer this question. I traveled to over 70 countries to meet people in their homes, offices, and prisons to offer an answer to a complex question. What's the answer to radicalization? We've been asking … [Read more...]

One Mother Tells A Story About Her Son Joining ISIS

I received a personal note from England to share this harrowing story of a mother whose son joined ISIS from England. At first, I was startled to watch the documentary and learn that the mother, a Muslim convert, was anything but ignorant about the faith or her profession. She converted to Islam at a young age and raised her children to be respectful and loving. She says they are a tight-knit … [Read more...]

Understanding Islam

In 2005, I had an experience that changed my life when I was asked to explain the history of Islam and modern-day conflicts to hundreds of U.S. military Captains. I was invited to Maxwell Air Force Base by the Commandant and asked to deliver a lecture on why Muslims are fighting each other in the Arab world.  Why are Sunnis and Shias battling each other?  What caused the split? And how do their … [Read more...]

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