Cover image for I was told to come alone : my journey behind the lines of jihad / Souad Mekhennet.
Title:
I was told to come alone : my journey behind the lines of jihad / Souad Mekhennet.
ISBN:
9781627798976
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2017.

©2017
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 25 cm
Contents:
Prologue: Meeting ISIS: Turkey, 2014 -- Stranger in a strange land: Germany and Morocco, 1978-93 -- The Hamburg cell: Germany, 1994-2003 -- A country with a divided soul: Iraq, 2003-4 -- A call from Khaled el-Masri: Germany and Algeria, 2004-6 -- Even if I die today or tomorrow: Lebanon, 2007 -- The lost boys of Zarqa: Jordan, 2007 -- The value of a life: Algeria, 2008 -- Guns and roses: Pakistan, 2009 -- Mukhabarat: Egypt, 2011 -- This is not an Arab spring: Germany and Tunisia, 2011 -- Threats: Bahrain, Iran, and Germany, 2011-13 -- Boys for the Caliphate: Germany, 2013 -- Brides for the Caliphate: Germany and France, 2014-15 -- The search for an Islamist Beatle, or Finding Jihadi John: Britain, 2014-15 -- Terror comes home: Austria, France, and Belgium, 2015-16 -- Epilogue: The deepest cut: Germany and Morocco, 2016.
Abstract:
"The journalist who broke the "Jihadi John" story draws on her personal experience to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and the West and explain the rise of Islamic radicalism Souad Mekhennet has lived her entire life between worlds. The daughter of a Turkish mother and a Moroccan father, she was born and educated in Germany and has worked for several American newspapers. Since the 9/11 attacks she has reported stories among the most dangerous members of her religion; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination. In this compelling and evocative book, Mekhennet seeks to answer the question, "What is in the minds of these young jihadists, and how can we understand and defuse it?" She has unique and exclusive access into the world of jihad and sometimes her reporting has put her life in danger. We accompany her from Germany to the heart of the Muslim world -- from the Middle East to North Africa, from Sunni Pakistan to Shia Iran, and the Turkish/ Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner "Jihadi John," and then in Paris and Brussels, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization. Too often we find ourselves unable to see the human stories behind the headlines, and so Mekhennet - with a foot in many different camps - is the ideal guide to take us where no Western reporter can go. Her story is a journey that changes her life and will have a deep impact on us as well"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

"I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . ."

For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing - Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.

In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner "Jihadi John," and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.

Mekhennet's background has given her unique access to some of the world's most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination.

Souad Mekhennet is an ideal guide to introduce us to the human beings behind the ominous headlines, as she shares her transformative journey with us. Hers is a story you will not soon forget.


Author Notes

Souad Mekhennet is a correspondent for The Washington Post 's national security desk, and she has reported on terrorism for The New York Times , The International Herald Tribune , andNPR . She is the co-author of The Eternal Nazi , Children of Jihad, and Islam . She was a 2012 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and she is a visiting fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Policy at Harvard, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the Geneva Center for Security Policy.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Washington Post correspondent Mekhennet (The Eternal Nazi) offers a spellbinding fusion of history, memoir, and reportage in this enthralling account of her personal experience as a journalist and a Muslim on assignment in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The author's unique perspective is informed by both her professional life as a reporter working for major publications and by her personal background-she was raised in Germany by a Turkish mother and Moroccan father and is fluent in Arabic. This combination of personal background and vocation provides her as if with insider access in her work to uncover and untangle the roots of Islamic radicalism. Journalistic coups abound here-for example when she recounts the uncovering of Jihadi John's identity-and moments of historical importance to which Mekhennet was a witness are described in thrilling detail. Historic religious, internal political, and global conflicts are lucidly delineated. While Mekhennet's modus vivendi as a reporter opened doors for her to rulers and important religious and political figures, here her focus is sharply on individual people, including on the family members of purported terrorists, who themselves experience profound loss. The value of this work lies in Mekhennet's commitment to "not taking any side, but speaking to all sides and challenging them." (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In her latest book, Washington Post national security correspondent Mekhennet chronicles her life and career. With a strong analytical voice, the author describes growing up as a first-generation German experiencing xenophobia and as a Muslim confronting the world's fear of radical Islam. She faced many hurdles pursuing her profession, but she persisted because she believes that journalists have the power to change lives. The ground she has covered, both literally as a reporter visiting terrorist camps in the Middle East and figuratively through her work, provides a near-complete look at modern terrorism starting before 9/11 and culminating with her discovering the identity of and meeting with the infamous Jihadi John. The heartbreaking topics of her news stories occasionally touched her personal life: a relative of a friend, radicalized, had to be brought back from Syria for a family intervention; a cousin's son fell victim to a mass shooting in Europe. The thrilling narrative brings up critical, persuasive insights while trying to answer the questions of where terrorism comes from and why it's so difficult to eradicate. VERDICT For readers who are interested in modern politics, the Middle East, journalism, or strong female voices. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/16.]-Heidi Uphoff, Sandia National Laboratories, NM © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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