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Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life Hardcover – September 17, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 185 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Author Saada, born in the Gaza Strip and reared as a refugee in Saudi Arabia and Auatar, became a sniper for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a young man. He also served as Yassar Arafat's chauffeur. With co-author Dean Merrill (In the Presence of My Enemies), Saada retraces his life's journey from hatred to love in Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life. Saada encountered Christ in a Damascaus road-like experience when he relocated to America at the age of 23. This experience not only infused his life with purpose, but also shifted his theological understanding and perspective on interracial and interfaith relationships. After all, for a Muslim to worship Christ is to risk life and limb, yet Saada counted the cost, even facing his relatives with his newfound faith. This book is a fascinating window into the book of Genesis, Islamic culture and the Arab-Israeli conflict. More importantly, it is a story of the ultimate hope rooted in Christ, the Savior of all--including Jews and Muslims. --Christian Retailing, October 13, 2008


Saada was a trusted assistant to Yasir Arafat in the late 1960s, soon after Fatah was established. His remarkable story is one of youthful violence and frustration; then he moved to the United States at age 23 to study engineering. He married an American woman, had a successful career in the restaurant business, and, in 1993, underwent a conversion to evangelical Christianity. He has written a moving personal story that will especially satisfy readers who believe in the transformative possibilities of America and the power of faith to alter lives. Saada's experience depicts well the unfortunate situation of the Palestinian diaspora in Arab countries and the circumstances culminating in the Jordanian-Palestinian violence of "Black September" 1970. Clearly, Saada intends to focus on the many circumstances that transformed his attitudes and activity after experiencing a miraculous religious conversion, culminating in his work in the West Bank and Gaza and his creation of "Hope Kindergarten" in the Gaza Strip. Perhaps the best part of his account is his reconciliation with Israelis and his role as a peacemaker. One's reaction to his proposals will likely depend on how one reacts to his life experiences as a whole. Recommended for large public libraries.--Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; 1 edition (September 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414323611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414323619
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeff Miller on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Once an Arafat Man's sub-title couldn't be a better synopsis of the book in general, "The true story of how a PLO sniper found a new life." The opening sequence of the book reads like some of the best action oriented fiction out there, but you have to keep in mind that not only are the related events actual parts of our world history, but they are also a first-hand account of the man writing the book.

I don't want to give away a ton of what goes on in the book and steal that pleasure from you, but the book is a real eye-opener for someone like me who has always been a firm (sometimes zealous) supporter of Israel. When you peek into the life of a Palestinian born in a tent near the beginnings of the last century's conflict between Jews and Arabs, you cannot help but have your worldview shifted somewhat--maybe not so much a shift in thought but an increased clarity because of learning about the other side of the issue.

Make no mistake, just as Tass Saada affirms in latter parts of his autobiography, Israel has a right to exist, and the Lord Himself promised them the land. But, also make no mistake that the Palestinian people have been abused, treated as non-entities at times, and used as political pawns by forces on all sides of the conflict. That's enough to make any people group be filled with animosity and hatred.

I think Once an Arafat Man is a book we should be paying close attention to, especially in our current, post-9/11 world. If you want some insight as to how a young child can go from being a mother's sweet little boy to someone willing to give their very life for a cause--willing to kill everyone who stands in their way--then you need to read the story of Taysir Abu Saada.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has great personal meaning for me. There was a time when I knew Tass only as Ben's dad. Ben was the boyfriend, then husband, of our youngest daughter's best friend. Ben was a bright, dedicated member of our church. He now serves as worship pastor at a local church we helped to start some years ago. I also knew Tass, as did many in Kansas City, as a highly respected restaurateur.

We knew that Tass was of Palestinian origin, but he had lived for many years in our city and seemed perfectly adapted to his new homeland. Little did we know that Tass had a past as a Palestinian warrior/sniper and former aide to Yasser Arafat. This book is the story of how he came to faith only a few months after his son Ben, on a separate but parallel track under the supernatural guidance of a loving God.

When Ben came to Christ in his late teens, he was naturally fearful of how his Muslim dad would react. Some in our church started a 24/7 prayer chain for him, and three months later Tass experienced a truly amazing encounter with Jesus that you can read about in this book.

Once I started this book I literally could not put it down. The first part of the book is candid and can be disturbing as Tass shares his background as a displaced Palestinian and the resulting build up of anger and bitterness that pushed him into his life as a terrorist. Like Saul of Tarsus, he sincerely thought he was doing God and his people a favor by killing the enemy. As interesting as you might find this section of the story, the account of his journey to faith in Christ is even more so. If you are a resident of Kansas City, you will immediately be drawn to places and people you know. The story will leap with life off the pages.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book immediately after hearing the author (Tass Saada) speak in person at a messianic congregation up in Dallas. I had no idea who the guest speaker was that day.

Within 5 minutes of his talk, I knew something was very different about this man. He spoke with incredible sincerity when he asked the Jewish people present for forgiveness because of what Palestinians like him had done. He talked about about some of his history, the work he had been doing in the Middle East, his message of reconciliation. Tears came to my eyes and many others during the course of his talk. When he mentioned that he had been a sniper and had actually killed people, and how the faces of those he had killed still haunted him to this day; you could hear a pin drop in the room. I was reminded of the Apostle Paul, who once persecuted the Church, but was struck down by a blinding vision and helped change the course of history. Tass had a similar life changing experience, and seeing him in person give his story was an incredible experience. He is genuine, his conversion is sincere. He stood in front of a group of mostly Jewish Christians and asked them for forgiveness, and is now friends with a former Israeli soldier in the congregation. To think that at one point these two people hated each other's guts, but now because of the love of God they have forgiven each other and consider themselves to be brothers, just amazes me.

So I bought the book and had Tass sign it, and I just finished reading it. At first I was a little disappointed because the writing style seemed to be very "Reader's Digesty". That is, it was very simple to read, the facts were stated without too much elaboration, etc.
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