This Wednesday (May 30th) at 7:30pm, three former terrorists--Walid Shoebat (author of Why I Left Jihad and Why We Want to Kill You), Zak Anani, and Kamal Saleem--will be speaking at UC Irvine, discussing their experiences and firsthand insight into the root cause of terrorism and some possible solutions.
From Anani's bio:
At 13, he joined one of the many military groups that existed in the early '70s.... "I was trained to fight and kill Jews, and to hate Christians and Americans...."
Soon after enlisting, he made his first “kill.” By the time he turned 16, "life meant nothing," Anani says. "Every time I killed someone and two or three fighters witnessed it, they would give me a point on my chart. I carried 223 points."
Their perspectives should be interesting. If you're not able to attend, you can watch this five-minute interview with two of the three speakers on YouTube. A more lengthy interview is available here on the website for the event.
I don't know if the speakers will discuss this as well, but all three converted from Islam to Christianity. As Americans, though occasionally we must confront books that accuse religion of poisoning everything or analyses that put us in the same category as violent Islamic fundamentalists, we have no real idea what it means to suffer for our faith. Anani's bio puts our relatively small complaints into perspective:
Anani initially tried to keep his new faith secret. Apart from one professor, no one at his university suspected he was a Christian. But in the Muslim neighborhood where he grew up, everyone knew it and he was harassed and persecuted. He moved to the city's Christian sector, but the persecution continued. Even his father hired assassins to kill him.
Finally church leaders convinced him to leave Lebanon because his presence endangered others.... After Anani debated with a Muslim scholar in the United States, his family was attacked in Lebanon. Two of his children required surgery.
When in Lebanon, he was nearly beheaded and was only saved when an army patrol came by and the Islamist gang dispersed leaving Zak with a huge wound on his neck. Zak nearly bled to death and was actually technically dead for 7 minutes, before being revived.
Click here for directions to the UCI event.