If you read one book this year, let it be “I Was Told to Come Alone,” by Saoud Mekhennet, This book is the culmination of the author’s journey to analyze and answer a question by Maureen Fanning, the widow of a New York City firefighter who had died in the collapse of the World Trade Center, on 9/11. Mrs. Fanning directed the title question toward Saoud who, although German-born, is of Turkish/Moroccan descent.
There are two key factors in Ms. Mekhennet’s background that, perhaps, make her the ideal person to even attempt to understand this multi-facetted dilemma:
- As the child of immigrant “guest workers,” Saoud felt the harsh reality of discrimination, oftentimes not being considered “German, German,” even though she tutored other German students in “German”. Many young Muslims in Europe, who perceive being rejected by society, are prone to radicalization!
- Ms. Mekhennet’s parents were born into different sects within the Sunni/Shia schism; however, she and her family had always lived as secular Muslims. In fact, Saoud only came to realize the problem in her later teens, but without any emotional biases. The religious instability caused by the Schism back home, merely fuels the flow of Muslims to the West, further compounding the growth of Terrorism–especially among the young!
Ms. Mekhennet’s journey took her to various countries within the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Western Europe, during which, Saoud interviewed a number of al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban leaders. Even though those interviews placed her at considerable personal risk, as a journalist, she knew that they were vital to her understanding–and explaining–of both sides of the issue.
A considerable amount of this book is devoted toward Ms. Mekhennet’s attempt to understand how and why young European Muslims have become radicalized, and join the Jihad. Is it a legitimate cause, necessary to save the Islamic way of life, or is it a false reality, based on a hijacked version of Islam–merely replacing one version of beliefs for another?
Throughout the book, Ms. Mekhennet also questions the false assertions behind such ideas as Weapons of Mass Destruction, false intelligence reported by various Western agencies, and the lack of concern for civilian deaths. Basically, if we throw off our parochial views and narrow-mindedness, we might begin to understand that there is plenty of blame, for the entire terrorism issue, to go around.
As somewhat of a summation to her journey, Saoud Mekhennet points out that “…some people in Western countries don’t see the hazards of setting standards for others, as if our way is the right way and the only way. This is the same argument that ISIS makes.”
NOTE: And oh, by the way, toward the very end of her journey, Ms Mekhennet solved one of those pesky questions that was on everyone’s mind, when she unmasked “Jihadi John”, who played a key role in those ISIS videoclips!