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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
“The 9/11 Commission grappled with the question of what drove the 19 hijackers to their terrorist acts in 2001, but we did not have time to investigate and fully understand their motives. Ken Ballen’s exhaustive research, scores of interviews, and gripping writing make Terrorists in Love a uniquely valuable––and sometimes chilling––behind-the-scenes account of the extreme beliefs that often fuel the actions of jihadist militants.”—Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission
“Ken Ballen has managed the impossible for an American. He has worked his way into the intimate thoughts and frustrations and family conflicts that drove six young Muslims toward the jihadist movement, and he presents his findings in a series of compelling narratives.”—David K. Shipler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Arab and Jew and The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties
“It’s simply astonishing how much Ken Ballen, an outsider, penetrated the closed world of Islamic radicals. In a fast moving, absorbing and at times shocking narrative, Ballen destroys stereotypes and defies conventional wisdom by allowing the ‘enemies’ to speak for themselves. America, meet the terrorists, really for the first time. And if you find yourself in the strange position of empathizing with them, don’t recoil in horror, for you might just have stumbled upon that unexpected insight that could help design a more effective response.”—Ammar Abdulhamid, former Islamic radical and leading pro-democracy activist in the Arab world
“Many authors write about terrorism. Ken Ballen took the rare step of talking directly to terrorists. If you want to understand them, read their stories, in their own words. By giving them voice, this book offers a rarely-seen glimpse into another world, the world of terrorists, not just terrorism.”—Philip Mudd, Former Deputy Director of the Counterrorism Center at the CIA, former Senior Intelligence Advisor for the FBI, and Senior Global Advisor, Oxford Analytica
“A valuable, even-handed and insightful window into the mindsets and emotions of jihadi terrorists. Ballen draws a telling portrait of the human side of terrorists, from childhood traumas to moments of transformation to radicalism and, in some cases, to renunciation of terrorists cause. A compelling, if at times frightening study, one that should be read by anyone interested in the roots––and possible deterrents––of terrorism.”—Karen Greenberg, author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days
“Terrorists in Love shatters the dominant dispassionate treatment of modern day Islamic purveyors of death and destruction and instead offers a profoundly intimate portal into the fragile, emotional, even sexual factors that drive their behavior. Ballen blasts past the clichÉs about what animates terrorists and takes readers to places that no one has gone before. The profiles and revelations in this book are at times as uncomfortable as they are vital to appreciate what lies in the mind of some terrorists. I couldn’t put the book down.”—Steve Clemons, Washington Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic and Senior Fellow & Founder, American Strategy Program
“Deploying techniques developed during his two decades as a prosecutor and investigator, Ken Ballen interviewed more than a hundred Islamist terrorists in depth, evincing from them their inner stories. Here he profiles six of these men, and the results are eye-opening and full of startling implications.”—Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, and author of Militant Islam Reaches America
“Ballen not only gets beneath the skin of terrorists, but all the way into their hearts, revealing unimaginable emotional and personal secrets. He has shed surprising light on the never-ending question about militant jihadis––what are they thinking? Anyone who wants to know ought to read this unusual book.”—Jane Mayer, bestselling author of The Dark Side
“An unusual atlas of extremism — a riveting, behind-the-scenes look at the events that turned six young Muslims into terrorists.” —Washington Post
I finished this book is a day, it was hard to put down once I got into it.
Ken Ballen's "Terrorists in Love" is an interesting and insightful look at the lives and motivations of 6 jihadists.
I had the privilege to read this book before publication and helped a bit with content editing and fact checking.
If you haven't read this do. Of course there is not much that you can feel for someone who has been involved in terrorist attacks, and this book rightly lays it out there as such,... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jordan Heer
This book deals not at all with the foundational Islamic concepts that drive jihadists. It is a collection of anecdotes (small, at that) about outlier jihadists whose primary... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Alyssa A. Lappen
Must read. I've been to SW Asia and met people very much like those described therein. It is a good perspective, and gives some balance and background on the "why"...Published 8 months ago by G2
Very much enjoyed this book. It gives a fresh perspective, 1st hand, of why extremists became that way. Very interesting to read about, and well written.Published 8 months ago by M. C.
A humanising read for those many Americans just believe all Muslims are bad. The stories here bring a face to jihadists and shed light on some actions.Published 9 months ago by Tava J. Foster
I was skeptical; since this was a bookclub book I read it. Once I read the biography/background of the author I was intrigued. The author definitely has credibility. Read morePublished 9 months ago by amber
Ken Ballen provides readers with a much needed insight into Islamic-radical world views and subjective causation of their decisions. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Vio
Haven't had a chance to read it yet. I am rating the fact that I got it very quickly and in perfect condition.Published 14 months ago by Marsha A. Butler
This book is about a select group terrorists after Ballan note reviewed hundreds. Their stories range from interesting to heart wrenching. Read morePublished 15 months ago by C Wahlman