I’m reading an excellent book, Omar Nasiri’s “Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al-Qaeda”, for Michael Scheuer’s class about a guy from Morocco who ends up being a spy within a mujaheddin cell in Belgium and then goes through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and other terrorist hotspots, finally writing a book about the dilemmas and moral quandaries he finds himself in as a Muslim disgusted with radicals. Did I tell you I love this class? I should also ask, “Is this book fake?” The story is almost too good.
Here are some early quotes:
“Every boy has a dream — to be a fireman or an astronaut or a president, to be something fantastic. Of course, most boys will never fulfill their childhood dream, but that’s not the point. As a boy grows up and becomes a man, he gradually lets the dream go, although it may still linger in the form of nostalgia. But if his dream is destroyed at a very young age, the boy will either be destroyed totally along with it, or he will become strong. He will become strong because he no longer has anything to lose. He will give up on the future. A boy without a dream is dangerous.” (p. 12)
“His eyes flickered for a moment, and I knew I had him. There are guys like this all over the world: they drink, they smoke, they snort coke, they are complete infidels in the eyes of real Muslims. But at the first mention of the words umma or jihad they suddenly reconnect with Islam. I think this is particularly true in Europe, where young men are so far from everything, from the Muslim land. Jihad is nothing to them, nothing real. But it is also everything.” (p. 28)
“Only one thing really bothered me about my new career: the Uzis. It made me sad to see all of them — Hakim, Yasin, Amin — prattle on about umma and jihad while they spent thousands on Israeli guns and Russian bullets. This is the problem of modern Islam in a nutshell. We are totally dependent on the West — for our dishwashers, our clothes, our cars, our education, everything. It is humiliating, and every Muslim feels it. I felt it every time I thought about the Uzis. I was disappointed with Amin and Yasin for their hypocrisy, but even more disappointed in the Muslim world. Once we had accomplished so much — in science, mathematics, medicine, philosophy. For centuries we ran far ahead of the West. We were the most sophisticated civilization in the world. Now we are backward. We can’t even fight our wars without our enemies’ weapons.” (p. 38)
“‘Your battle against the terrorists. You’ve already lost your battle.’ Gilles was curious and asked me why I said that. I told him that Muslims everywhere were rebelling against the dictators they lived under. In Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, and all over the Middle East, Muslims knew that their governments were being propped up by France, England, or the United States. It was bad enough to live under these repressive regimes, but far worse knowing that these regimes were just the playthings of Zionist and Christian nations. It enraged Muslims and made them hate the West. And it made them distrust democracy, because they saw how antidemocratic Western countries could be when it served their interests. There would always be violence, I told him, as long as Western powers continued to manipulate the Muslim world.” (p.53)