July 24, 2007

Losing My Jihadism

From Losing My Jihadism:

Once, I was a jihadist. I grew up in Saudi Arabia. When I was 16, I joined a hard-line Salafi group. In 1991, I took part in firebombing video stores in Riyadh and a women's center in my home town of Buraidah, seeing them as symbols of sin in a society that was marching rapidly toward modernization. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I criticized al-Qaeda's school of thought, which considers everyone who isn't a Salafi Muslim the enemy, and wrote that Islam calls for friendship among all faiths. I lost a lot of friends after that and was eventually fired from the newspaper I wrote for. In December 2002, in a Web site interview, I criticized al-Qaeda and declared that some of the Friday sermons were loathsome because of their attacks against non-Muslims. Within days, a fatwa was posted online, calling me an infidel and saying that I should be killed.