The BBC Television Drama Sensationalizes the Muslim Female Terrorist

The new BBC television drama called "The Bodyguard" sensationalizes the Muslim female terrorist. The hit-drama that drew in millions of viewers opens with a nervous, scared and seemingly innocent female bomber--yes, she wears a suicide belt with a trigger in her hand--on a busy train. Anjli Mohindra played Nadai in the drama--the finale which was watched by 11 million people. (Image below) You … [Read more...]

Perspectives on Terrorism Book Review of Invisible Martyrs

Book reviews matter and I've been honored to receive the following reviews of my new book, Invisible Martyrs, from other scholars and kind-hearted readers. I'm honored to have this review from Joshua Sinai published in the "Counterterrorism Bookshelf" section of the Perspectives on Terrorism journal, Volume 12, Issue 5.  Farhana Qazi, Invisible Martyrs: Inside the Secret World of Female … [Read more...]

Today Islam Is Still Misunderstood, Misappropriated and Misinterpreted. Why Is This True?

Today, Islam is still misunderstood, misappropriated and misinterpreted. Why is this true? Recently, I was asked to give a talk to US government officials and someone commented on a question I presented in my talk: Is Islam a violent religion? (Obviously, the answer is no.). The official in the audience stated that there is a sizable group of Americans who do believe that Islam is violent, … [Read more...]

Why Women Choose Violent Action

Women choose violent action for a plethora of reasons, including religion, respect from their community or peers, revenge, retribution from past or current sins, and the right to change prolonged (armed) conflict. This not only applies to radical / violent Muslim women and girls, but to women everywhere.  In numerous studies and books, including the release of my latest book Invisible Martyrs: … [Read more...]

On Masked Men, Hijackings, And Nightmares

It was the same dream for years: sitting with a travel magazine on an international flight when masked men take over the plane in a hijacking that seemed oh-so-1980s. The nightmare had consumed me throughout my days in the U.S. government.   In my dreams, men with dark eyes wore black masks and wielded sharp weapons. They spoke a language I vaguely understood and made plans to strike a … [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...]

A Prayer For The Victims of September 11th and All Terrorist Attacks

I remember the September 11th terrorist attacks clearly and before I can answer what I was doing, I offer a prayer for the victims, which include innocent American Muslims. That day is unforgettable, as it is for most Americans who were old enough to recall. As a young analyst in the U.S. Government, I happened to be on a military base when I watched the planes shatter glass and destroy thousands … [Read more...]

The Final Truth About 72 Virgins In Paradise

The myth of the 72 virgins in Paradise is a common theme for terrorist and violent extremist groups, and the final truth is anything but a myth. The reality is that there are no 72 virgins in Paradise. Numerous Islamic sources and my own interviews with religious figures across the Muslim and Western world confirm this truth. Here's why: Heaven in the Muslim faith does not include 72 wide-eyed … [Read more...]

Why Terrorism Is Still A Personal Choice For Girls and Women

Terrorism is a personal choice for most girls and women who join violent extremist groups. For years, I have been speaking and writing about the very personal reasons to explain why Muslim females enter the dark world of violence. The following is an excerpt from my new book, Invisible Martyrs, that addresses this subject: Terrorism is personal. Each woman’s story is unique. Local contexts, … [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...]

Why The Definition of Terrorism Is Important Today

The definition of terrorism is important and should not be confused with criminals, shooters, hate crimes, and more. This month's serial bombings by Mark Anthony Conditt in Austin, Texas, which happens to be my hometown, raised questions on whether to call the violent acts 'domestic terrorism' or not. In a recent interview for IPT News, I was asked to comment on why words matter: why should we … [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...]

The Afterlife Is Not For Insurgents Firing At Women and Children

  She clutched her nine-millimeter weapon as insurgents fired into the house of women and children. A team of U.S. soldiers and Special Forces operators, including a woman who I’ll call Lisa, engaged in one of the worst firefights that took place in the blue-white mountains of Afghanistan. Trapped by intense hostile fire, U.S. forces fought off a local Afghan insurgent group named … [Read more...]

How To Think Like A Terrorist And Take Preventive Measures

We live in the worst of times. We  know that ISIS is capable of another major attack which means more victims and violence. And that's exactly what happened in Manchester, London and Tehran earlier this month.   The bad news is that there will be more attacks. This is why gaining access to the 'the operational nugget' is critical.  I remember using that word way back when I was in the U.S. … [Read more...]

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