zak ebrahim

zak ebrahim

intro’d to Zak here:

i’m tired of hating people..

out sept 9:

the terrorists son








book links to amazon

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the terrorists son notes








There’s a reason that murderous hatred has to be taught—and not just taught, but forcibly implanted. It’s not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It is a lie. It is a lie told over and over again—often to people who have no resources and who are denied alternative views of the world

By the time I was twelve, I’d been bullied so much at school that I thought about suicide. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I met a woman named Sharon who made me feel like I was worth something—and that my story was, too. It’s the story of a boy trained to hate, and a man who chose a different path.

I can’t make any grand claims for myself, but all our lives have themes, and the theme of mine so far is this: Everyone has a choice

Bigotry cannot survive experience.

she had the wisdom to speak the six most empowering words I have ever heard: “I’m so tired of hating people.”

telling his family story, describing things that happened, .. Zak describes things that happened to his father (accused of rape – false, bad accident – can’t support family, ..), with these words..

shame spreads through his body like a drop of red dye in water

then his father becomes less tolerant of non-muslims. zak asks him about it…

at home, he still has moments of warmth with us kids, but there’s an increasing number of times when he looks though us, not at us – when he’s just a figure brushing by us, clutching a qur’an. one day, i innocently ask when he became such a devout muslim, and he tells me, with a new edge in his voice,  – when i came to this country and saw everything that was wrong with it.

the his dad connects with rebels (supported by u.s. billions in afghanistan)

for my father and other struggling, disenfranchised members of the mosque, the sense of purpose is intoxicating.

zak talks of the place these men were meeting in secret – and says:

baba takes my brother and me there all the time, and we help out. we have no real idea what is going on, but there’s no mistaking that my father is alive again.

then says,

… it s difficult to convey the effect of the news on my father. looking back over two decades later, my mother will pinpoint azzam’s murder as the moment she lost her husband forever.

u.s. is back out of afgan support in 89, afghan left a mess . ..

jihadists such as my father long to create the first true muslim state in the world….rahman travels to america… to rally the faithful… but also puts an end, by any means necessary, to what they see as the american-sponsored tyranny of israel over palestine. … state dept revokes visa, but immigration/service of nj give him green card. govt agencies, it seems, cannot agree on how to handle an international terrorist who was just our ally against the russians.

my father’s obsession with the plight of muslims in palestine deepens, as does his disgust for american’s support of israel…. all my life i’ve been told that israel is the enemy of islam.

when they searched their apt:

.. most of the material is in arabic, and authorities dismiss some fo the notes as islamic poetry no one will bother translating the buk of it until after the first world trade center attach less than 3 yrs later.   “47 boxes.. and references to an attack on the world’s high buildings”

93 – explosion in parking lot of wtc

in letter to nytimes – this action was done in response for the american political, economical, and military support to israel, the state of terrorism, and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region

the six victims, of course, has no ties whatsoever to american foreign policy. in truth, the bombing was an act of hatred destined – like all such acts = only to inspire more hatred in its turn.

95 – govt has translated contents of 47 boxes – so father convicted to life +15 yrs.

we have no plans for survival – and no hope of my father ever being a true father or husband, again. even now, my father will not admit any guilt.

i believe him because – well, because i am twelve years old.

so divorce, moving around, bullying at school, step father.. getting in fights

everything I experience contributes to the day when I will finally understand that nonviolence is the only sane, humane response to conflict, whether in the hallways of a high school or on the global stage.

after kahane’s death, i could comfort myself with the fact that my father had been found not guilty of murder….. but conspiring to bomb the wtc… he chose terrorism over fatherhood, and hate over love.

i’m a teenager now, and even before the wtc bombing, my self-esteem was shot through with holes. the bullying at school is never going to stop, ,y stomach hurts all the time, and i bang my head against my bedroom wall at night for the same reasons that girls my age cut themselves. i think about how easy, how peaceful, it would be to be dead, an now there’s this horrible new realization: my father chose terrorism over me.

remarry –

ahmed is not a murderer like my father, but within the walls of our apt – among people he claims to love – he is every inch a terrorist

zak tries bullying..

There’s no denying that there’s a rush to being on the other side of the equation. But then I see a look on the poor, tormented kid’s face that I recognize so viscerally—it’s bewilderment as much as fear—that I pull the bag out of the garbage and hand it back to him. No one’s ever sat me down and taught me what empathy is or why it matters more than power or patriotism or religious faith. But Ilearn it right there in the hallway: I cannot do what’s been done to me.

at 15, finally stands up to his stepfather’s abuse and then this

.. he stalks out of the kitchen, never to touch me again. it’s a victory, but a short-lived one, he just starts beating my younger brother even more

99 – back in states – zak tells 2 friends who he is:

i feel a rush of relief. if my friends don’t blame me for my father’s sins, then maybe, slowly, i can stop blaming myself.

Truthfully, my bad-boy experiments are all timid and short-lived. My real rebellion is that I’m starting to question everything my father stands for. From the moment I put on my Rhino Rally safari suit, I meet tourists and coworkers of every description, which is so liberating that I can hardly put the feeling into words. I’m taking every fundamentalist lie I was ever told about people—about nations and wars and religions—and holding it up to the light

I stay up late just waiting for him to decipher the world for me, and he helps adjust a lot of the faulty wiring in my brain. It seems only fitting that my new role model is Jewish  (Jon Stewart)

The flood of people, people, and people into my life is intoxicating. I walk around Busch Gardens with my head literally held higher because I know people who are not like me. I’ve got incontrovertible proof that my father raised me on lies. Bigotry is stupid. It only works if you never walk out your door.

I proceeded to tell my story, and to offer myself up as proof that it is possible to shut one’s ears to hatred and violence and simply choose peace.






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danger of just one story


to this day

no time to blame

i know you

none of us

discrimination as equity