Ed Husain —
Reflections of a Former Islamist Extremist

British activist Ed Husain was seduced, at the age of 16, by revolutionary Islamist ideals that flourished at the heart of educated British culture. Yet he later shrank back from radicalism after coming close to a murder and watching people he loved become suicide bombers. He dug deeper into Islamic spirituality, and now offers a fresh and daring perspective on the way forward.

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is a former fundamentalist and member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and author of The Islamist.

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Krista discusses recent terrorism and security concerns through Ed Husain's words.

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Hizb ut-Tahrir demonstration against American policy in Iraq and Somalia. London.

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9Reflections

Reflections

i think ed husain is terribly wrong and his recounting is full of errors that are not being challenged. the fact is he is a minority and the majority can only be expected to go just so far in their daily living to put up with minorities. i think that islamists should be living with islamists. it is clear that the constant carping when minorities keep carping and carping and carping and complaining and complaining is enough to drive the majority crazy. if you come into an environment that is not your environment, go back to where you are comfortable and stop driving everybody else crazy. ed should go live in his muslim environment.

ear Krista and Crew,

The interview with Husain was excellent in every way. Having written on science and religion for the last decade and having addressed this particular subject, I find it gratifying to hear a thoughtful man like Husain say that the problem is not the mechanics of terrorism but the mindset.
Having studied the kamikaze pilots of Japan's WWII navy, I know he's right when he says that suicide bombers do not have evil or malicious motives but rather feel an altruistic desire to sacrifice themselves for a higher purpose.
If you find a moment, I would invite you to take a look at my recent blog essay on this subject. It was widely circulated, and its central idea of a neuron bomb was once again praised by Michael Shermer and others. You'll find it at http://open.salon.com/blog/clay_farris_naff/2009/12/29/aboard_nw_flight
I am currently blogging on religion at the Huffington Post. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/clay-naff
My theme is stated in the opening essay, "Can Science Rescue Religion?" I am working on a book that elaborates this theme. If you ever feel I might have something to contribute to the conversation, I would welcome the opportunity to be on SOF.
Congratulations on a great and worthy program.

Clay Farris Naff
Lincoln, NE
USA

IN YOUR REBROADCAST OF THE INTERVIEW WITH ED HUSAIN, MUSLIM TERRORISM IS ATTRIBUTED TO A RELIGIOUS MINDSET. OCCAM'S RAZOR SUGGESTS SOMETHING MUCH MORE DIRECT AND LESS MYSTERIOUS: THE UNITED STATES IS WAGING WAR WITH FIVE ISLAMIC COUNTRIES, CURRENTLY EITHER DIRECTLY OCCUPYING THEM WITH THOUSANDS OF TROOPS OR DROPPING DRONE-BORNE MISSILES ON THEM. MOREOVER, THE UNITED STATES IS THE CHIEF ENABLER OF ISRAEL'S BRUTAL EMBARGO OF GAZA, ITS OCCUPATION OF THE WEST BANK, ITS INCESSANT SABER-RATTLING AND ITS PERIODIC WARS AGAINST GAZA AND LEBANON. THOUGH THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AND THE AMERICAN PRESS STEADFASTLY REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT, IT IS THESE MILITARISTIC POLICIES WHICH ANGER MUSLIMS AND ENGENDER TERRORISM, NOT SOME PUZZLING RELIGIOUS MINDSET.

THE INDISPENSABLE GLENN GREENWALD: www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/12/29/terrorism/index.html

I enjoy listening to the interview very much with the author, Ed Husain. There were many great points that he mentioned in the interview that my eyes would lit up in both surprise and awe. Firstly, I did not know that the theory of global conspiracy against Muslim throughout history and today’s world are such a great influence and mind gripping to the young Muslims. This shows that religions have no border or boundary. Its influences both positive and negative could spread like a wild fire near and far across the globe especially with the enabling of new technology and the media.

I was somewhat appalled when Husain said Al Qaeda which is considered the greatest threat in the Western world as the West is waging war on terror, is a mindset. Al Qaeda is a battle of ideas. If this is so, we are not going to win the war on terror with violence and war then? What is the alternative? Diplomacy and engagement then? Those are still reactive responses. The strategy must be proactive. We can’t be spending so much money on protecting our homeland and collecting intelligence to pinpoint where and when the next target or the next attack will be, but rather a comprehensive tactics that would target the root causes of Islam extremism. If we can win the ideology, then we can win this so called war on terror.

Vandy Chhe

It is hard in America, especially with regards to the current war on terror, to think of what we see as terrorist or referred to as Islamic Extremist, as just caring and selfless normal people. It is said that they become extremist because they posses those qualities of a selfless person and those qualities are than exploited. These people are not evil people; rather they have been misguided and simply just exploited. Also, because of those that act on the extremist views of Islamic beliefs, their actions have created a general idea about those involved in that religion; they have affected and tainted all who believe, but one persons actions should not be a reflection of all believers.

It appears that the reason why we have failed on the war on terror is because we have an innate inability to understand the Islamic psyche. Our policy makers in the US think that pumping money into foreign policy will somehow help fix the problem, but what they don’t realize is that that will solve nothing, what we need to do is understand the religion and with that perhaps the war on terror has a chance of ending. My brother just recently got home from a year long deployment to Iraq. The current soldiers being deployed to the Middle East are getting training in both the language and the culture so that they can better understand their way of life. My brother did not see the people who live in the Middle East as being “terrorist”, but rather just people trying to live their lives and the soldier’s job was to help them live a safer and better life. We should have done this earlier in the war on terror, we need to help these people and understand them, not shut them out and think that they are all bad people; understanding their way of life is the best thing we can do for them.

There is no doubt that the events of 9/11 had a profound effect on our society, the devastation caused by Islamic extremists put an unimaginable fear in not only Americans, but also populations around the world.

Sadly, the members of this extremist group justified their actions on the premise of their Islamic faith. I can't begin to imagine the devastation felt by Muslims towards these proclamations of "in the name of Islam". How horrific that such a peaceful faith is associated with such a violent attack.

I believe that most Americans, who are not of the Muslim faith, found it difficult to separate these extremists from Islam as a whole. This, I believe, was due to our lack of knowledge or familiarity with Islam. As an American, I was ashamed at the actions and viewpoints of other Americans who choose, through ignorance, to pass judgment on Muslims as a whole for the actions of one extremist group.

My lack of knowledge on the subject enticed me to enroll in an Arab cultures course. I wanted to learn about the culture rooted so deeply in the Islamic faith. The most beneficial piece of information I learned was the difference between Islam as a faith and an Islamic culture. In western culture, we tend to disregard the fact that the faith of Islam is not interchangeable with particular Islamic cultures.

Just as in any faith, religious teachings are subjected to interpretations. It is these jaded interpretations by which some countries choose to rule by that has misguided some to view Islam in a negative manner.

I believe it would be beneficial and would encourage any non-Muslim to learn and recognize the difference of an Islamic state whose reputation as being a culture that
is suppressive towards women and Islam as the peaceful faith which entails a deep rooted faith in living a life in accordance to a devotion to God.

On your January 14th broadcast you aired a piece titled Reflections of a Former Islamic Extremist. I found this broadcast particularly interesting. In the interview Muslim terrorism is linked to a particular mindset. The individuals who become suicide bombers do not think of themselves as evil. In their mind they are sacrificing themselves for the greater good. I think they think this way not because of a religious point of view but from a political point of view. I have found no inherent hate towards Western culture or democracy from Muslims. Often hate of these things use used by the media to explain terrorism. I think terrorism comes from a desperate person. Someone who feels attacked and has no other way of defending themselves. To be sure there are evil people out there, but the majority of people are just struggling to make it through. Given the U.S.'s support of Israel in it's wars against Muslim nations, its own wars with Muslim nations, and its many trade embargoes I can see why many Muslims would feel helpless to fight back in any other way. I'm not saying that agree with them, but I can understand how things might appear from their side of the wall.

“Reflections from a Former Islamic Extremists” is an interview with Ed Husain, and as the title states, he was a former Islamic radical. In the interview he says that “al-Qaeda is just a name” and explains that even if the “war on terror” takes stops al-Qaeda, it will not solve that problem because it is a way of thinking for many people, he thought that the “war on terror” should be renamed to “a battle of ideas.”

One of the things that are alarming to me is that he claims many “terrorists” or “extremists” starts that way because “it is about identity” and they “didn’t have a strong identity to start off with.” That statement is true for so many individuals these days that it is scary. We have already seen Islamic extremists recruit people from right here inside of our own country and while “not all who wander are lost,” the fact is that there are so many lost people vulnerable to the ideas of hate and terror.

Later in the interview, he was talking about his friends that had become suicide bombers, and he described one of his old bomber friends as being “teddy bear of a guy that he was generous and kind and selfless.” That really stood out to me, simply because when we see pictures of these people, they are usually mug shots, or scowling faces that you want to quickly erase from your mind. However, you have to think, those people were someone’s friend, someone’s son, someone’s father. It is sad when you actually humanize a terrorist, not saying that people who are willing to kill thousands deserve to be looked at with sympathy.

i believe islamic extremism is wrong it caused so much damage to american people

apples