Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals

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9781451609219: Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals
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Drawing on unprecedented access, a leading terrorism expert profiles six terrorists to offer an astonishing new portrait of our enemies as we have never seen them before.

Imagine a world where a boy’s dreams dictate the behavior of warriors in battle; where a young couple’s only release from forbidden love is death; where religious extremism, blind hatred, and endemic corruption combine to form a lethal ideology that can hijack a man’s life forever. This is the world of Terrorists in Love.

A former federal prosecutor and congressional investigator, Ken Ballen spent five years as a pollster and a researcher with rare access—via local government officials, journalists, and clerics—interviewing more than a hundred Islamic radicals, asking them searching questions about their inner lives, deepest faith, and what it was that ultimately drove them to jihad. Intimate and enlightening, Terrorists in Love opens a fresh window into the realm of violent extremism as Ballen profiles six of these men—from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia—revealing a universe of militancy so strange that it seems suffused with magical realism.

Mystical dreams and visions, the demonic figure of the United States, intense sexual repression, crumbling family and tribal structures—the story that emerges here is both shocking and breathtakingly complex. Terrorists in Love introduces us to men like Ahmad Al-Shayea, an Al Qaeda suicide bomber who survives his attack only to become fiercely pro-American; Zeddy, who trains terrorists while being paid by America’s ally, the Pakistani Army; and Malik, Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s personal seer. Lifting the veil on the mysterious world of Muslim holy warriors, Ballen probes these men’s deepest secrets, revealing the motivations behind their deadly missions and delivering a startling new exploration of what drives them to violence and why there is yet an unexpected hope for peace. An extraordinarily gifted listener and storyteller, Ballen takes us where no one has dared to go—deep into the secret heart of Islamic fundamentalism, providing a glimpse at the lives, loves, frustrations, and methods of those whose mission it is to destroy us.

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Review:

Amazon Exclusive: Ken Ballen on Terrorists in Love

Terrorists in Love defies conventional thinking. Even though I had studied radicals and criminals for most of my career, when I went behind the lines, and got to know some of today's terrorists closely, everything I thought I knew was shattered. That's why I decided to write this book.

I started out as a federal prosecutor, a job in which I convicted international terrorists and then I became a Congressional investigator. From nearly two decades in this line of work, I learned a simple truth: you can really only find out about people by talking to them—in depth and at length.

So I started a non-profit organization to learn what makes people support extremism and spent five years researching and interviewing more than a hundred extremists—-in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and throughout the Muslim world.

And what I found surprised even me. From frustrated love to mystical visions, from envy of Americans to blind hatred, here is a world so different from our own, it begs for understanding—-and a different response than what our policy makers have given so far.

I got to know Taliban soldiers, Al Qaeda suicide bombers and extremist leaders, even though I'm American and Jewish. I learned what no amount of torture or confinement of terrorists could ever tell us: what lay within their hearts. These straightforward lessons will help give us all a clearer path to defeat terrorism in our times-—and build better understanding across religions and cultures. --Ken Ballen

About the Author:

Kenneth Ballen is President and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, which investigates the causes of extremism. Ballen has regularly contributed to CNN, and his articles have been published in The Washington Post, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. Learn more at KenBallen.com.

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9781451672589: Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals

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