Author & Journalist

"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. . . .”

More than just a great narrative, I Was Told to Come Alone is a story for our time: a penetrating look at the roots of Islamist radicalism from a gifted and extraordinarily courageous journalist. Souad Mekhennet dares to confront the issues head-on, often at great personal risk, and she weaves her own experiences into an unforgettable and deeply absorbing tale. If you want to truly understand the nature of the crisis facing the West in the twenty-first century, this is the place to start.
— Joby Warrick, Pulitzer Prize - winning author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
“I Was Told to Come Alone reads like a thriller, as Souad Mekhennet takes us on a journey into the heart of the Muslim world. Mekhennet is a Western journalist who is female and Muslim, which gives her access that few reporters can match. Through her eyes we see how terrorism develops and that it produces no winners on either side. Her insights are sobering but deeply wise, and especially urgent today.”
— Jessica Stern, coauthor of ISIS: The State of Terror and author of Terror in the Name of God

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.

If only every journalist with Souad Mekhennet’s culture-straddling perspective and access would write an incisive book like this. It will haunt you, because the truth on the page is vaster than anything we’re usually offered.
— Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad and Honeymoon in Tehran
Souad Mekhennet has written a fascinating memoir that functions on two levels. In the first, she is the daughter of Muslim immigrants to Germany, seeking ways to bridge these two worlds. In the second, she is an intrepid reporter investigating some of the most dangerous and important stories of recent years, and gaining unparalleled access to leading jihadist militants. Both stories are hers, and together they are truly compelling.
— Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad: Who Are America’s Homegrown Terrorists and How Do We Stop Them?
A book that is at once courageous, perceptive and deeply knowledgeable about the phenomenon of contemporary Islamic militancy. One would expect nothing less from a reporter who has repeatedly shown she is one of the best in the business.
— Jason Burke, The Guardian, Author of Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam. "On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World".

praise for "I Was Told to Come Alone" 

Souad Mekhennet

Souad Mekhennet is a national security correspondent for The Washington Post, and she has reported on terrorism for The New York Times and other news organizations.

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.




My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad

Islam (German Edition)

ISLAM (German edition)

 Tracing the true nature of this religion beyond radicalism

The Eternal Nazi

The Eternal Nazi

From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim

Die Kinder des Dschihad

Die Kinder des Dschihad

Die neue Generation des islamistischen Terrors in Europa (German Edition)


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