Zak Ebrahim : Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Zak Ebrahim

A Terrorist's Son Promotes Peace

When Zak Ebrahim was seven years old his father took him and a small group of men to a shooting range for target practice. “When it was my turn to shoot,” Ebrahim explains, “…the last bullet that I shot hit the small orange light that sat on top of the target, and to everyone’s surprise, especially mine, the entire thing burst into flames” Zak’s uncle turned to the other men and in Arabic said, “Like father, like son.” The entire group burst into laughter. “It wasn’t until a few years later that I fully understood what they thought was so funny,” Ebrahim says. “They thought they saw in me the same destruction my father was capable of.”

On November 5th, 1990, when Ebrahim was seven years old, his father assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the Jewish Defense League. Although initially acquitted of the murder, while serving time on assault and weapons charges, Ebrahim’s father began planning attacks on a dozen New York City landmarks including tunnels, synagogues, and United Nations headquarters. Thankfully those plans were foiled by an FBI informant. Sadly, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was not. Ebrahim’s father, El-Sayed Nosair would eventually be convicted for his involvement in the plot.

As an adult, Ebrahim realized the only way to overcome the challenges of his past was to help others understand that hatred only produces more hate, but belief in non-violence heals. Those cycles of violence, no matter how old, do not have to continue forever.

Ebrahim has twice spoken at TED events. The first event was at a talent search at TED@NYC in Oct 2013. “With quiet, mesmerizing sincerity, Zak Ebrahim told the story of being raised by an extremist father who would eventually be convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – and how he used his personal encounters with other faiths and cultures to overwrite that narrative of hatred and bigotry. “Violence is not inherent in any religion or race,” he says. “The son does not have to follow the father.” He dedicates his testimony to all victims of terrorism.’” –The Quirky Talks of Ted, TED blog

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