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Posted on: December 14th, 2014 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim

Years after his father was imprisoned for life, Zak Ebrahim, as an advocate for peace, gave a speech in front of a couple hundred federal agents at the FBI headquarters in Philadelphia. After the talk, some agents formed a line to shake his hand.   One agent, a woman, who had been crying, took his hand.   She had worked on his father’s case. “I always wondered what happened to the children of El-Sayyid Nosair,” she said.

This brief book is the answer to that question.

The adult males in Zak’s life had modeled fanaticism, bigotry, and violence for him. He was only seven when his father assassinated the leader of the Jewish Defense League. Then while in prison, Nosair helped plan the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. By deciding that other people’s deaths were more important than his own family’s lives, he had condemned his wife and his children to poverty and shame, a miserable rootless existence. They had to pay the price for his crimes.

Just having survived the bullying and negative dogma of his childhood is an achievement, but Zak went further and redefined himself. He had a lesson in empathy when he tried bullying himself. He saw a look on the poor tormented kid’s face that he recognized viscerally and knew he could not do to others what had been done to him.

Through small opportunities to experience the world, as a Rhino Rally guide at a theme park and by watching John Stewart on TV, Zak realized he had been taught lies. He began taking every fundamentalist lie he had been told about people—about nations and wars and religions—and held it up to the light. Turning someone into a bigot is the first step in turning him into a terrorist. But as Zak learns, bigotry cannot survive experience, and having been victimized, he understood deeply how little the world needs more victims. And so the son of the infamous terrorist, El-Syyid Nosair, stopped taking his father’s calls from the prison in Illinois and began a new life, a life of empathy, peace, and nonviolence.

Reviewed by Dorothy Sampson

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