Stories With Heroic Imagination and The Meaning of Memoir

I spent an entire afternoon at the library and discovered the humanity and warmth of stories written as a memoir with heroic imagination. This kind of narrative--the use of a hero or heroine--is one of the oldest and most compelling methods of holding someone's attention: everyone wants to be told a story in narrative form.  For years, I focused on the stories of people living in conflict and … [Read more...]

A Conversation With Farhana Qazi and Wajahat Ali, One of CNN’s Most Influential Muslims, At Bus Boys & Poets Bookstore

  Award-winning journalist and playwright Wajahat Ali, and one of CNN's Most Influential Muslims, will join me at the Bus Boys & Poets Bookstore to discuss perceptions of Muslims in America, Islam, conflicts in the Muslim world, Islamophobia and much more. On October 1st, at 6:30 pm, Ali will openly discuss the most pressing issues of our time: perceptions and misperceptions of Islam, … [Read more...]

Invisible Martyrs With Farhana Qazi, a Conversation On Violent Extremism And Islam

Join Farhana Qazi for a conversation on violent extremism and Islam, the theme of her new book Invisible Martyrs at the International Spy Museum on September 27, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Hot Topic Series Why would a girl from Denver join ISIS, an extremist movement known for its mistreatment of women? Why would an Iraqi girl strap on a suicide vest? What does Islam say about violence? These … [Read more...]

Book Review of Invisible Martyrs And Why Women Join Violent Groups

The first book review of Invisible Martyrs and why women join violent groups appeared in the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Reading a review of my book confirms what I have always known: as a global community, we are still grappling with Islam.  There is a wider debate on the role of religion in violent extremism and terrorism studies. Some have argued, including Graham's controversial … [Read more...]

Muslims Fighting For Understanding (And The Survival) Of Their Faith

For centuries, Muslims have been fighting for understanding and the survival of their faith. Numerous books on rebellion, revolution and resistance offer an intimate portrayal of an isolated people struggling to change and grow and connect. As I was growing up, I was fascinated by women in conflict. My mother told me stories of her war-time days in Pakistan when she joined the Army. And then in … [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...]

A New Book on Islam, Women, and Counter-Terrorism

  Twenty years of research on women, Islam and terrorism is captured in a new book and written as a collection of stories. I traveled to numerous cities and countries in the Muslim world, including Western countries, to answer this oft-repeated question: If Islam is a loving and peaceful religion, why do some Muslim women kill? What are the reasons why some women and girls join violent … [Read more...]

A Love Affair With Kashmir, The Forever Conflict

  I did not plan to fall in love with Kashmir, the forever conflict, or its people. When I visited Wonderland, I could not have predicted the profound effect it would have on the way I would see and understand a protracted conflict: the spoils of war; the senseless violence; the widows and families left behind; and the endless political quagmire.  Over the past year, since the release of … [Read more...]

A Pulitzer Prize Winning Book on The Survivors of War

Last month, on a long international flight to Asia, I read a novel by Anthony Doer. All The Light We Cannot See is the Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015 and yet, I was reading it for the first time. I was struck by its historical setting, simple language, and striking storyline. This is the story summary:  After finishing the book, I made a list of its most revealing parts: a … [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...]

Living True Islam Negates Violent Extremism

My entire life, I've heard this one simple line: write the book you want to read. The trouble is that most people I know didn't want to read about violent behavior. Until now.  But when writing about terrorism, or violent extremism, it's equally important to learn about 'true' Islam. I have spent nearly two decades trying to understand why and how extremists manipulate religion for political and … [Read more...]

A World-Recognized Terrorism Expert Studies Motives and Meaning

A man with pearl-gray hair and a friendly face leaned against the wooden desk in the middle of the classroom. Once his graduate student at The George Washington University, Dr. Jerrold Post taught a class in political violence and terrorism as the Director of the Political Psychology Department. At the time, I was mystified by men (and women) who perpetrated acts of violence--a puzzle I wanted to … [Read more...]

The Story of Mughli, A Mother Who Died Searching For Her Son

An enlarged black-and-white photo hangs in my home office. When I see her, I am reminded of why I write about women inc conflict. Many years ago, I had written a post about Mughli, a woman in Indian-held Kashmir who never stopped looking for her son. I write about women in war because women like Mughli deserve to be known. When a mother like Mughli loses a child, she no longer wants to live.Women … [Read more...]

The Super-Hero Adventurist Saves Lives

On a sunny day in California, I walked into an orchard of grapefruit trees and over-sized lemons. Canadian-born Robert Young Pelton cleared away the rocks in his backyard, making room for more fruit trees. I stood by Linda, his wife. As his guest, I was honored to share this moment with Robert and his wife, the brave woman who stood by her daring husband as he entered the world of madmen and … [Read more...]

What Do We Think of The Pakistan Police?

Recently, I was asked to write a paper on the Pakistan police, which is a touchy topic. Years ago, the police had been labeled as corrupt, careless, and coddling with shadowy political elites and thugs. That perception continues to persist, although the police over time has scored a few successes in helping the Pakistan Army to combat and capture terrorists that pose a threat to the security of … [Read more...]

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