"We can't let those working hard to spread hatred divide us."
“I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . .”
For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.
In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.
Mekhennet’s background has given her unique access to some of the world’s most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination.
Souad Mekhennet is an ideal guide to introduce us to the human beings behind the ominous headlines, as she shares her transformative journey with us. Hers is a story you will not soon forget.
praise for "I Was Told to Come Alone"
Born in Germany as the daughter of a Turkish mother and a Moroccan father. As a child she lived in Morocco, before her parents brought her back to Frankfurt.
Since shortly after September 11 she has been reporting about radical Islamic movements. She is a visiting fellow at the Weatherhead Centre at Harvard University, and at the School for Advanced and International Studies (SAIS) at the John Hopkins University, the Geneva Center for Security Policy and The New AMERICA Foundation.
Souad Mekhennet was selected a 2014 Young Global Leader: The World Economic Forum honors the most exceptional leaders under the age of 40 from around the world. In 2013 she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University where she researched the “long-term strategies of terrorist organizations since the Arab Spring”. Between 2004 and 2012, and before her Nieman fellowship, she worked as a reporter for the New York Times.
As a member of the investigative unit at The New York Times she covered subjects like war zones, terrorist attacks and the ‘war of terror’, including deportations and human rights abuses.
She was one of two reporters who broke the story of Khaled el Masri’s extradition case and worked on a series called “Inside the Jihad” for which she and her colleagues interviewed members of Al Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS all over the world.
Currently she works for the Washington Post and German TV channel ZDF. She has been interviewed for various TV and radio shows in the US, the Middle East, and Europe.
Helping the next generation is one of her other passions, she has taught and lectured at Harvard University, The City University of New York - School of Journalism, as well as at the University of Hamburg and schools and universities in Arab countries.
Souad Mekhennet holds degrees in international relations, political science, sociology, psychology and history from the University of Frankfurt in Germany. She also attended the Henri-Nannen school of journalism in Hamburg and took classes at the City University of New York - School of Journalism.
I WAS TOLD TO COME ALONE
My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad
ISLAM (German edition)
Tracing the true nature of this religion beyond radicalism
The Eternal Nazi
From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim
Die Kinder des Dschihad
Die neue Generation des islamistischen Terrors in Europa (German Edition)