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...]

The Revolutionary Who Changed Me

The Revolutionary I am convinced that one teacher can change the life of a student forever. We met in class at a private Methodist college, Southwestern University, set in small-town America with a candle factory, vintage shops and one main grocery store. In 1993, I chose to take a class on Latin America, a region of the world I still know nothing about except for the location of Brazil and … [Read more...]

The Women of War

Women lose a family member every day. A husband, son, brother, father, cousin, or uncle disappears. The women who are left behind as a result of  "disappearances" are tormented and traumatized. Kashmiri journalist Afsana Rashid captures the voices of these women in her heart-wrenching book, Widows & Half-Widows. Based in Indian-administered Kashmir, Rashid has devoted her life to uncovering … [Read more...]

Paradise Beneath Her Feet

Isobel Coleman's book is an easy-to-read collection of stories of women across the Islamic world. Inspiring and insightful, the book features mostly women who dare to speak against injustice committed against them and to stand for equal rights for women. In September 2011, Coleman sent me her book draft--a rare and treasured gift for an aspiring writer like myself. Many things captured my … [Read more...]

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