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...]

The Violence in Myanmar And The Growing Silence Of Aung San Suu Kyi

Millions of Muslims have been forced out of their homes, and the world is still waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi to help end the military operations against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Among those who oppose Suu Kyi is Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the veteran South African Anglican leader and fellow recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. But it’s not certain that even a reputed leader will have much impact … [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...]

A Message To The Army: You Just Can’t Kill Anyone

A month ago, there was a siege in a village. A contact, who will remain unnamed for security reasons, gave me a horrific account of the military madness that took place in the pristine valley of Kashmir.  They did it again. They shot four boys in our neighborhood. One was fifteen-years old. Oh God, I thought. He is too young to die. He belongs to someone. I could not (did not want to) … [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...]

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...]

Undocumented Children Are Prime Terrorist Recruits

Earlier this year, I spent some time with experts working in Lebanon who track ISIS recruitment of children. Given the sensitivity of their work, their names are not mentioned in this brief report, but their insights are worth sharing. Given a variety of factors, multiple sources believe that ISIS recruiting has steadily increased in Beirut. ISIS’s recruiting strategy in Lebanon leverages a … [Read more...]

5 Ways To Write About War And Women

Conflict has the potential to teach. In writing, there is always the drive to want to tell every war story. For the past twenty years, I’ve been traveling in and out of dangerous places, moving from one conflict to another, in search for the truth. Hoping to find that magical or mysterious story the world needs to know about a people barely surviving the trappings of war. Years of traveling … [Read more...]

Can We Engage Muslims To Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)?

Years ago, winning the 'hearts and minds' of Muslims worldwide was Washington's solution to disrupting and defeating terrorism. The 'hearts and minds' campaign was intended to do many things, which included motivating Muslims to 'take back Islam.' Some Muslims viewed the campaign with skepticism; others distrusted and denounced it. Today, the new terminology in the world community is CVE or … [Read more...]

The Pakistan I Thought I Knew: Part Four

There is an image that lingers on silent nights. The shifting patterns of house lights in play in Azad Kashmir, or Free Kashmir, situated in northern Pakistan in the city of Muzaffarabad. The suffocating closeness of that city to refugee camps and rain-glazed trees where leaves sagged toward another winter leave an indelible mark.The city is the strangest place I have ever visited. To many, it is … [Read more...]

The Women of Kashmir Survive the Spoils of War

For years, I lived Kashmir. I dreamt of the women featured in this book. For awhile, they were like family. I knew intimate details of their lives. Even though I was their American guest, they gave me more than stories to be recorded in a book. They gave me a slice of modern history--the untold histories of women, the survivors of a 60-year-plus conflict. The women of this book form a community … [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...]

Tracing the Literature of Extremist Women: Part III

With the approval and praise of their men, extremist women glorify violent jihad with words, while guarding their gender. Behind a computer screen, women can conceal their identities from everyone else, while reaching the mainstream media and the general public.As anonymous actors, using fake identities, these women may believe they are liberated to write, so long as they remain undetected, … [Read more...]

Tracing The Literature of Extremist Women: Part I

Terrorism has always been a battle of ideas, reflecting a desire for immediate attention and change in the international world order. Like men, women leave their homes, families and communities to join terrorist organizations, such as The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to support violent extremism. Because of their gender, women assume an auxiliary role within most male-oriented … [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...]