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The terrorist's son speaks

Author Zak Ebrahim recalls his experience growing up in the shadow of terrorism

Zak Ebrahim, whose father was one of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, seeks to show that someone raised by a terrorist need not necessarily embrace violence himself.

AS THE son of one of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in the United States, Zak Ebrahim had to lie to people about who his father is for most of his life.

However, he decided to tell his story to the world a few years ago in order to show people that someone raised by a terrorist does not necessarily embrace violence himself. Mr Ebrahim details his life in a memoir titled The Terrorist's Son.

He was only 10 years old when the bombing took place, and his father would later be convicted as one of the conspirators in the plot. And he was only seven when his father, El Sayyid Nosair, assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-Orthodox, anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League in 1990.

Mr Ebrahim's father grew up in Egypt and moved to the US in 1981, and Mr Ebrahim was born two years later in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He recalls meeting Omar Abdel- Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who was also known as "The Blind Sheik", when he preached at a mosque in Jersey City.

"Even though he spoke in Arabic you could see very clearly the emotion on his face and in the way he spoke. He spoke with this very passionate anger," Mr Ebrahim tells the audience during a keynote address at the Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference 2016.

Fearing for their lives, he and his family moved almost 20 times around the US while he was in his teens. Indeed, upon hearing the truth about Mr Ebrahim's father, one of his co-workers swung a knife at him, saying that "he would be doing this country a favour if he killed me".

"It was very important for me to show people that my experience was unique, even among Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims in the world are never indoctrinated into this level of extremism," he says.

He spent much of his life trying to understand what drew his father to terrorism, but it wasn't until he was in his 20s that he understood who his father really was and how his actions had affected his own life.

He says: "I started to realise that I maybe didn't know my father at all."


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