A Shooting in San Bruno Raises Questions About Safety in America

On Tuesday afternoon, a shooting in San Bruno, California is raising questions about safety in America. Again, an active shooter is at large and has proven how easy it is to perpetrate a deadly attack against a civilian target. This time, around lunchtime, the attacker gunned down several people at 901 Cheery Avenue, the address of the YouTube office.  It's too early to tell who is responsible. … [Read more...]

Is America Safe Now That The Austin Bombing Suspect Is Dead?

  The Austin bombing suspect is dead, thanks to a tremendous law enforcement effort, but America is not yet safe from future attackers, serial killers, school shooters and other violent individuals.  The one important question that authorities did not answer is why.   Why did 23-year old Mark Conduit, a young white man from the peaceful town of Pflugerville, terrorize his home town and … [Read more...]

Who Is the Mystery Serial Bomber in Austin?

A serial bomber has gripped the city of Austin, Texas, the fourth time this month as the latest bomb blast injured two men in a residential area and has left residents on edge while law enforcement agencies are scrambling to identity the mystery bomber. Austin is my hometown city. It is where I spent my childhood and young adult life. It's a peaceful place known for music aficionados, pristine … [Read more...]

How Many Innocent Civilians Are Killed By Drones Every Month?

More civilians are being killed by drones than ever before. Often, we don't see the faces or know the names of the dead. Neither do the drone operators. Which is why many have stopped caring about "the casualties of war." Because we have simply accepted that innocent people will die in war. Or agree that terrorists are to blame for hiding among civilian populations--as if innocent people should be … [Read more...]

September 11 Attacks, A Day of Remembrance And Lessons Learned

For many Americans, the evil attacks on September 11, 2001 was a day of unforgettable grief. On that day, I was at one of the largest U.S. military bases, and as the only Muslim female officer, I worked around the clock to help piece together the ugly events. There was grief at the shedding of innocents' blood in the attacks of September 11 and over the death of more innocents in the war that … [Read more...]

5 Ways To Live Fearlessly In An Age of Terrorism

We live in unpredictable times and many people I've met are struck by anxiety and fear of not knowing when the next attack will take place, which is why I have given lectures on how to live fearlessly in an age of terrorism to general audiences. Fear is a terrible feeling. When we're scared, we can’t move forward and get stuck in that moment for a very long time. That’s what happens when you’re … [Read more...]

Is America The Next Target for a Terrorist Attack?

We live in a time when a terrorist attack in the United States seems real following the crazy incidents in London and Manchester. For the first time in "terrorism history," attackers have learned that they don't need sophisticated training or big bombs to strike fear in a capital city. Terrorists just need a motive and the means to kill innocent people.  The means is easy. Over the past six … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Religion and Why It Matters Today

Three days into the month of Ramadan, one of Islam's holiest months, and I'm reminded of the strength of faith. CNN seems to think so too with its new series on religion.  A month into the show, The Believers that takes a deeper look at the power of believing in a higher being and living for a greater purpose. Narrated by an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar on religions, Reza Aslan … [Read more...]

3 Lessons Learned From Teaching The Military

Training the American armed forces was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences. In the classroom, participants (i.e., soldiers) helped me understand war by sharing their experiences of serving in a Muslim country. Here's what they taught me: 3 things I learned again: War is not black and white. But shades of gray, and every other color in-between. Although there is a real enemy in … [Read more...]

The Opening to My New Book On Violent Extremism

  For those of you who missed it, the moderates and the murderers of Islam are exposed in my new next book.  Here's the opening:  For years, I dreamt of hijackings on airplanes. In my dreams, men with dark eyes wear raven-black masks and wield sharp weapons. They speak a language I vaguely understand and make plans to strike a passenger. At that moment, I rise from my seat to announce my … [Read more...]

3 Simple Ways to Warn Children About Online Extremism

The Internet is familiar. And it's all too easy to search for the wrong person, group and idea. So how can Muslim parents talk to their children about extremist groups looking for young recruits? A mother of two teenagers, I warn my children, weekly and then monthly, about the dangers of extremists trolling the digital world. At the end of one of my talks, my eldest said, "I have a future here." … [Read more...]

Why Girls Join Violent Groups: An Update On My New Book

  The threat is real. We live in an unsafe world, haunted by criminals, gangs, serial killers, murderers, rapists, and religious extremists. The latter is relatively new and has troubled me for nearly 20 years. As an American Muslim woman, I've been asked over and over again "why" and "how" ordinary-looking Muslims join violent groups. The truth is that the majority of Muslims are kind, … [Read more...]

Honest Writing Is Daring: Why Write About Violence

The cliche is true. Study something you love to-death and in-depth. Over the years, many people have asked me, "Why do you study violent behavior?" or "Why conflict?" On a lecture tour in Muscat, Oman, I had to tell my audience that studying violence and violent behavior chose me. (By the way, Oman is a beautiful, peaceful Muslim country. You can read more about Oman in my next post.) What you … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part Three

As her daughter, I’m often amazed at how unwounded my mother is. She would readily admit that ‘war changes everything and everyone.” It changed the way women behaved. The way they planned their day, and how they interacted with one another, choosing carefully their messages and maxims with outsiders. War could leave deep wounds that would never heal, but somehow, it didn’t mark my mother. Or at … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part Two

Mama trained without wearing the hijab or burqa, the head-to-ankle cloth that hides the contours of a woman’s body. Refusing to cover her hair, Mama reminded me of American woman in jeans, a symbol of the sexual revolution in the 1960s. I remember thinking how bold and sanguine she was while growing up in a country that offered girls few choices. She valued her freedom and refused to be controlled … [Read more...]