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Zak Ebrahim Nonviolence advocate and author of The Terrorist’s Son

About the Author

Zak Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 24, 1983, the son of an Egyptian industrial engineer and an American school teacher. When Ebrahim was seven, his father shot and killed the founder of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane. From behind bars his father, El-Sayyid Nosair, co-masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In one of his infamous video messages, Osama bin Laden urged the world to “Remember El-Sayyid Nosair.”

For Ebrahim, a childhood amid terrorism was all he knew. After his father’s incarceration, his family moved more than twenty times, haunted by and persecuted for the crimes of his father. Though his radicalized father and uncles modeled fanatical beliefs, the hateful ideas never resonated with Ebrahim and he hid his identity from those who knew of his father. The older he grew, the more fully Ebrahim grasped the horrific depths of his father’s acts. The more he understood, the more he resolved to dedicate his life to promoting peace.

In 2014, Ebrahim went public with his family’s story in his remarkable memoir, The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice. In it, he traces his extraordinary journey to escape his father’s terrible legacy, crisscrossing the eastern United States, from Pittsburgh to Memphis, from a mosque in Jersey City to the Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa. Though he was subjected to a violent, intolerant ideology throughout his childhood, Ebrahim was not radicalized and he argues that everyone, regardless of their upbringing, can learn to tap into their inherent empathy and embrace tolerance over hatred. Ebrahim’s message is timely, urgent, and essential to the current discussion about terrorism.

Raves and Reviews

His message is tolerance and peace. And how the son can be different from the father.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

In his powerful, affecting memoir (written with former EW deputy editor Jeff Giles), he says, ”My father lost his way — but that didn’t stop me from finding mine.”

 Entertainment Weekly

The author’s father helped plan the 1993 Wold Trade Center bombing. Instead of following in those violent footsteps, Ebrahim now speaks out against terrorism. An astonishing memoir.”

 People magazine

Ebrahim’s life is an eloquent plea to terrorists — indeed, to anyone who commits violence out of bigotry and hatred — to stop and consider the impact on children. His tale speaks to the suffering of children everywhere — in Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria — who are caught up in the raging intolerance of adults. In emotional detail, The Terrorist’s Son takes us through the traumas of his life — school bullying, social withdrawal, feelings of suicidal worthlessness — that dogged him from the moment his mother awakened the boy in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas to inform him that something was horribly wrong and they had to flee immediately from their home in Cliffside Park, N.J.”

The Washington Post

[A] book you can’t put down. Hearing the story of Zak Ebrahim—the son of El-Sayyid Nosair who, when Ebrahim was just 7 years old, killed the leader of the Jewish Defense League and went on to plan the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center from prison—is one thing. (A gut-wrenching, how-is-this-real-life? thing.) Reading it in intimate, terrifying detail—the confusion, the bullying, the burden—is another. (An even more gut-wrenching, how-is-this-real-life? thing.) The Terrorist’s Son… tells a detailed account of Ebrahim’s story, shared at a TED talk, of his impossibly brutal childhood and adolescence and how he became nothing like his dad.”

 GQ magazine

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The Terrorist's Son

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