For her entire life, German-born and -educated Souad Mekhennet has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing—Muslim and Western—and provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.
In Mekhennet's new memoir, I Was Told To Come Alone, she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and culminating on the Turkish-Syrian border where ISIS is a daily presence. Traveling across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents the failed promise of the Arab Spring, and then returns to Europe, where she uncovers the identity of notorious ISIS executioner "Jihadi John" and delves into the terror that has pierced the heart of Western civilization.
With unprecedented access to some of the world's most wanted men, she's told to never come alone to an interview. As she gets closer and closer to the inner circles of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates, she can never underestimate the personal danger that awaits her destination.
On June 12, New America NYC hosted an event for the release of New America fellow Souad Mekhennet's I Was Told To Come Alone, with a conversation on her journey coming face to face with the figures most of us confront only in news headlines.
PARTICIPANTSSouad Mekhennet @smekhennet
Correspondent, The Washington Post
Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow, New America
Author, I Was Told To Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad
Alexis Okeowo @alexis_ok
Staff writer, The New Yorker
Fellow, New America
Author, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa (forthcoming)