How Kamal Saleem, a Former Terrorist of the Hamas & ISIS type is transformed, will surely make you cry – By Rev George Ong (Dated 4 Nov 2023)


(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)


Please click here


to view the entire video.


The cruel acts that Hamas did to Israel on 7 October 2023 were what ISIS did to others and especially Christians, several years ago.


No people of any religion, including true Muslims, would ever agree with or stomach the terrorist acts in which


babies were mercilessly killed, people burnt alive, and women raped, killed and their bodies are publicly paraded for the other Radical Muslims to cheer. 


In my last article 2 days ago, on 2 Nov 2023, I featured the story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of Hamas Founders, whose life was turned around and he left his Radical Islam behind.


For those who have missed the article,


The Gripping Story of Mosab, Son of founding Hamas leader, who became a Christian and Israel Envoy’s message to the UN will bring you to tears


Please click on the link below to view,


In today’s article, you will read of another Islamic Radical, Kamal Saleem, who was an Islamic Terrorist but who came to his senses, and his life was gloriously transformed.


Thank God that even Islamic Radicals are not beyond hope.


While we condemn the barbaric acts of these Islamic Radicals, we should not dismiss them as hopeless.


We ought to pray for them that they would be made to see their evil ways and turn away from them. 


As Christians, we should never hate or hold any grudges against the evil that these Islamic Radicals, such as Hamas and ISIS did to our brothers and sisters.


The Lord Jesus has exhorted us:


Matthew 5:43-44 NIV

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  


Love, not hatred, is the only way to win them.


Besides praying for Israel, we should also, with the same passion and intensity, pray for the Hamas terrorists.


If there is anyone who needs to experience the love of God more than others, it is these Hamas terrorists.


The following are the verbatim notes of what Kamal Saleem said in the video


(much more details on Kamal Saleem are found below after these verbatim notes):


“Kamal Saleem was born in Lebanon to a devout Muslim family.


As early as 4-years-old, he remembered sitting in a kitchen table, while his mother taught him about the Koran and his duty to Allah and Jihad.


From my childhood, my mum said,


“One day, you will be a martyr, my son. You will die for the sake of Allah and you will exalt Islam.”


She said,


“If you kill a Jew, my son, your hand will light up before the throne of Allah, and the host of heaven will celebrate what you have done.”


Kamal was 7 when his parents sent him to Muslim training camps to learn to use weapons and engage and kill the enemy.


The boys were also taught another more subtle form of warfare.


We were training for what’s called culture Jihad – which is shifting cultures.


Culture Jihad is unlike the sword, unlike the rifle.


It is the Jihad that will come into your world.


By his twenties, Kamal was chosen to wage cultural Jihad on America.


In Islam, liberty, freedom, monarchy all these are idols, and these must be brought down.


So, the liberty that you have in United States of America is anti-Islam.


So, America must be changed.


So, I moved to the Bible belt, specifically.


The Bible belt was the strongest of strongest.


That’s where the stout Christians are.


And I want to take on the best of the best because I consider myself as the sword of Islam.


I thought I’m anointed. I’m unique. I’m selected.


I’m coming to a country and a culture to change it, and I have the power of Allah with me.


In the early 1980s, Kamal entrenched himself in a small mid-western town and began targeting men from poor neighbourhoods to recruit them to the Muslim Faith.


But one afternoon, his life would be in the hands of those he hated the most.


I was going from one place to another to do a recruitment.


And that day, I had a car wreck.


The car wreck was so severe I ejected out of my car, land on my neck, broke my neck in 2 places.


This man came running to me, and he said,


“Don’t worry, we’re going to take care of you, and everything’s going to be alright.”


The ambulance came and picked me up and now I go to the hospital.


The orthopaedic surgeon in the emergency room looked at my chart, and he just said,


“Son, we’re going to take care of you, everything’s going to be alright.”


The second day I wake up in the hospital, and this physical therapy, head of physical therapy came and read my chart, and he turned around, and he said the same thing, word for word,


“We are going to take care of you.”


At first, Kamal was frightened by their words because these men were all Christians.


You see in terrorism, if they said we’re going take care of you, you better run.


Surgeries to repair Kamal’s broken neck were successful.


But recovery would take weeks.


After being discharged from the hospital, he would need someone to care for him while he recuperated.


Kamal had no one.


So, the orthopaedic surgeon opened up his own home to this stranger.


In his home, they put me in the choicest room.


The most beautiful thing; I became like part of their family.


He didn’t see me any different, and now, they have a basket, says for Kamal, they put in money to free my bills from the hospital.       


Kamal was overwhelmed with the outpouring of Christian love.


As he recovered, he began to help out around the house with cooking and cleaning.


They have Jewish friends, they came from Israel that they support, you know, and now I’m hugging Israelis, and I’m cooking for Jews.


And what has happened to me?     


When Kamal was able to take care of himself and return to his apartment, the doctor had another surprise for him.


He said,


“This is the key to the house, and here is an extra key; this is your new car, we just want to bless you. You can come any time you want.”


So, I go to my home, and I go to my cold place that I haven’t been there in months, and the dust is this thick.


And I just get to settle this issue with my ‘God’ to know that if it’s real or not.


So, I walked inside, I shut the door, I go right in the Eastern window, and I fall on my knees.


And I put my hands to the heavens, and I cry out to my ‘God’:


“Allah, Allah my Lord and my King, why have you done such a thing to me?


I’m okay with the car wreck.


I’m okay with all these, but why did you put me among Christians?


I’m confused.


These Christians and Jews; they are good people.


There’s nothing wrong with them.


They don’t want to kill us.


They’re not the same thing that I learned about them.


Allah, these people have a relationship with their God.


These people they cry out to the God and they answer them.


I want to hear your voice.


I want to hear you love me.


If you’re real, speak to me.


I want to hear your voice.”


Guess what Allah said that day?


Absolutely nothing.


Kamal felt that because he questioned his Faith, the honourable thing to do was to end his own life.


So, I went to reach out my gun and put them in the right place, and clocked out.


I heard a voice.


The voice knew me by name.


He said,


“Kamal, Kamal, Kamal. Why don’t you call God of the Father of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.”


And now I fell on my knees, and I put my hands to the heavens immediately as I heard the voice.


And I cried out with every fibre within me,


“God, the Father of Abraham, if you’re real, would you speak to me?


God the Father of Abraham, if you’re real, I want to know you.”


Well, God the Father of Abraham came to the room.


And he filled the room with His glory.


And His name was Yahweh, the Lord is one.


In His hands, He has holes in His hands.


He has holes in His feet.


His name is Jesus.


I said to Him,


“Who are you, my Lord? Who are you?


He said,


“I am the I am.”


I said I’m a simple man with a simple mind.


What has that supposed to mean?”       


He said,


“I’m the Alpha. I’m the omega.


I am the beginning. I am the end.


I am everything that is in between.


I have known you before I formed the foundation of the earth.


I have loved you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.


Rise up, rise up, come on.


You are my warrior.


You are not their warrior.”


And I said to Him,


“I said, my Lord, my Lord, I will live and die for you.”


He said,


“Do not die for me. I die for you that you may live.”


That day, instead of taking his life, Kamal gave it to Jesus.


It’s been over 20 years that since Kamal left the Islamic Faith


and even threats of violence and deaths cannot stop him from sharing his story.”


George Ong’s comments:


Kamal Saleem said:


And I said to Him,


“I said, my Lord, my Lord, I will live and die for you.”


He said,


“Do not die for me. I die for you that you may live.”


Do not let Joseph Prince, with his anti-martyrdom teachings, deceive you by what Kamal Saleem said.


While it is true that martyrdom is not the call for Kamal Saleem and many believers,


many, throughout the centuries of Christianity, have been called to martyrdom. 


As recently as several years ago, many Christians have been killed by the ISIS radicals.


For another of Kamal Saleem’s video which gives a different aspect of his life,


Please see the end of this article.




(which I purchased in 2016, 7 years ago)


“The Blood of Lambs, A Former Terrorist’s Memoir of Death and Redemption”


By Kamal Saleem


(Please note that the way the book is organized, is not according to chronology. It’s a ‘back and forth’ approach):


“Nearly thirty years before, empowered by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), I had come to America.


From the Koranic teaching of my youth, I knew that by infiltrating the American education system, overrunning its universities and jails, and swarming its poor neighborhoods,


my jihadist brothers and I could usher in Umma—one world under Islam. It would be, as Americans like to say, “a piece of cake.”


I had worked odd jobs as cover only, since I was being well paid by Middle Eastern sheikhs.


While on the jihadist side, I came to realize that the strength of the American people and infrastructure is also its weakness.


An open society with constitutionally protected freedom of speech and religion, which prides itself on its embrace of foreign cultures,


was the perfect place to teach a message of hatred in broad daylight.


I was a master at reaching the poor and those who perceived themselves oppressed.


I taught them that Allah cared for them.


I found them jobs, mentored them, and invited them to fellowship with my jihadist brothers, who all the while never mentioned jihad.


Once the converts were hooked, we turned them over to the imams at small “apartment mosques” to be radicalized.


… Beirut, Lebanon 1963


It was at my mother’s kitchen table, surrounded by the smells of herbed olive oils and pomegranates, that I first learned of jihad.


… Mother sat at the head of the table and read to us from the Koran and also from the hadith, which records the wisdom and instruction of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad.


… My father did not teach madrassa often, but would sit in during especially important lessons.


I remember the day we learned about the seventy-two virgins.


My brothers—Fouad, Ibrahim, Omer—were there and also my mother’s brothers, Uncle Khalid and Uncle Shafiq.


My mother sat quietly at the end of the table while Father told us a story from the hadith about a man who charged into a Jewish army all alone, sacrificing himself for Allah.


“The moment he died, he woke up instantly in jannah,”


Father said.


“Allah presented him with seventy-two virgins, women who had never before been touched by a man. And each virgin also had seventy-two virgins attending her, and all these women belonged to the man who died as al-shaheed, a martyr.”


Uncle Khalid winked at Fouad, who grinned widely.


It seemed my oldest brother thought this was a fine arrangement.


But I sat on my tesat and thought about it.


Seventy-two times seventy-two?


At six years old, I could not even count that high.




I said,


“You only have one woman in the house, and you fight all the time. How are you going to be able to manage so many women?”


My uncles burst out laughing, and Father smiled a little sheepishly.


He thought it over for a moment, then said,


“The grace of Allah is sufficient.”


He went on to explain that there would be no bickering or fighting in jannah.


“These women will attend to all your desires and needs.”


“So they are servants?”


I said.


“No, they are, virgin women. They will not be angels, but not human, either. They will be there to meet your heart’s desire.”


I knew what he meant.


… But now I wondered: What about my mother?


I looked down the table and caught her eye.


Then I turned to my father again.


“You are married to my mother,”


I said.


“If you die as a martyr and you get this many virgins, how about if my mother died as a martyr? What does she get?”


My uncles and my brothers laughed, although a bit nervously this time.


Father looked at Mother, who returned his glance, then looked down.


Finally, he said,


“Your mother will become one of the.”


I frowned and looked down at the wood patterns in the table.


This answer did not settle well with me.


My brother Ibrahim had once told me angrily that in the Koran, Muhammad referred to women as the


“ground that we walk on.”


We could not think of our mother that way.


I could feel everyone staring at me, waiting.


Finally, I looked up at Father.


“If Mother works hard in this life and dies as al-shaheed, why doesn’t she get seventy-two virgin men?”


My uncles’ mouths popped open.


Then they looked at each other, threw their heads back, and roared with laughter.


My father’s face flushed red, and a vein on his neck began to pulse.


Then, quick as a cobra, his hand closed the distance to my face.




“Insolent boy! Never talk about your mother that way!”


My father glared at my uncles, but the joker Khalid did not care what my father thought, and he snorted out loud.


Mother did not say a word.


My question ended madrassa that day.


But a week later, I was out on the roof chasing lizards through the liquid sun when my father emerged through the door from the living room and walked to the wall overlooking our street.


I went over and stood beside him.


Below, a vegetable merchant slowly wheeled his cart past a knot of giggling girls.


Marie, the Christian girl from next door, was down there.


My father pulled a lighter from the pocket of his white shirt and lit a Kent.


Leaning his elbows on the wall, he turned his head toward me.


“Do you remember what you asked me about your mother?”


“Yes, Father.”


“Your mother will become the head of the, the head of the seventy-two,”


he said.


“She will be in charge of them all.”


Father never told me where he got that.


Maybe he went to the mosque and asked the imam.


If he did, I learned later, the imam most certainly told him,


“The woman gets nothing.”


But Father could not come and tell me that.


… Father had talked to us several times about the flames of hell and the tormenting giants who would use meat hooks to rip you apart.


We had already learned that, according to the Koran, every Muslim, except for al-shaheed (martyr), has to pass through hell.


There, Allah purifies you through burning.


After a long time, if you were not an altogether bad Muslim, Allah would excuse you and admit you to a dry place between heaven and hell.


Finally, if you pleaded many times, Allah would let you into jannah.


You would be among the lowliest and receive only a few virgins and a little bit of food.


But Mother assured us that even this was much better than earth.


After madrassa was over, I scurried to the bathroom and climbed up into my secret place, the attic where we stored rice and grain and kept blankets in the summer.


My heart was melting completely because I knew I had no hope.


I was not even good enough to make it to the dry place.


My breath came short and quick as I thought about the demons with the meat hooks.


Leaning back against a sugar sack, I thought, My deeds will have to make a place for me.


I remembered the teaching about al-shaheed, the martyrs for Allah.


My mother had taught us that one Muslim man has the strength of ten infidels, just like Prince Ali Baba in The Arabian Nights.


As the comforting smell of wheat and rice seeped through the cloth bags all around me, I looked up at the rafters and meditated on legendary Islamic warriors.


One would charge at hundreds, knowing he was going to his death.


The idea, I had learned, was to take as many infidels with you as you could.


I imagined myself as the great Muslim general, Khalid ibn Walid, or as Omer ibn al-Khatb, the second caliph.


Father had told us that wherever Omer walked, Satan ran away.


I could be a great warrior like that.


I knew I did not want to grow up to be an evil man, not like that bandit who had dishonored his mother.


And I remembered what Father had told us:


“The first drop of infidel’s blood you shed, you can provide atonement for seventy of your loved ones.”


No matter how bad and evil I am now, I thought, one day I can save myself and my family.


One afternoon during madrassa, my mother taught us something amazing.


She was reading from her treasured Koran.


Omer was only about four at the time.


Mother sat on the floor at the end of the kitchen table, and he stood at her side, tracing the words with his tiny finger.


She was reading the Sura 9:5, which teaches that infidels do not deserve to live.


“Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them,”


Mother read. She then looked up to expound.


“My sons, if you kill a Jew, on the day of judgment your right hand will light up before the throne of Allah, and all his heavenly host will celebrate.”


When she said this, I flashed back to an incident a couple of years before.


At a young age, a sign had emerged that I was destined for trouble: when I colored with my crayons or ate my food, I naturally used my left hand.


To my mother and father, this was intolerable.


In Islam, the importance of the right hand, and the “right” in general, cannot be overstated.


Infidels are “the people of the Left.”


Muslims are “the people of the Right.”


We sit at Allah’s right hand, the side of goodness and righteousness.


… I had not thought of that day for a long time until Mama told us about our right hand lighting up before Allah.


Now I was thankful she had corrected me, that I might instinctively use my right hand to kill an infidel and not displease Allah by using my left.


“Why do we do this?”


I asked.


Killing infidels is one of the ways Allah would open heaven for us, she told us.


The more infidels we killed, the better our chances to move quickly from punishment to paradise.


“It is your duty,”


she said.


“It is the duty of the faithful to punish and harass the Jews and Christians, who are thieves and traitors to Islam. They are cursed as monkeys and pigs, and their spirits are unclean. It is in the Book.”


Fast forward – now, Kamal Saleem has left his Radical Islam behind and is now speaking at a conference in America.


… my wife, Victoria, and I sat by our hotel swimming pool chatting over coffee with Walid.


Walid is not Walid’s real name.


Born in Bethlehem of Judea, Walid’s grandfather was the Muslim mukhtar, or chieftain, of a village in Israel called Beit Sahour-Bethlehem.


While living in Jericho, Walid lived through and witnessed Israel’s Six-Day War.


Like me, he joined the PLO at a young age and was later imprisoned in the Russian Compound, Jerusalem’s central prison, for committing violent acts against Israel.


After his release, he resumed his acts of terror against the Jews, eventually continuing them in the United States, though in the form of fomenting propaganda against Israel while working as a counselor for the Arab Student Organization at Loop College in Chicago.


Though schooled in violence, Walid was also an intensely scholarly man whose jihad was informed by hundreds of hours of Islamic study.


Ultimately, it was his intellectual bent that led him to abandon holy war.


Islamist men are taught that they can marry Christian or American women in order to convert them, or to gain innocent-looking entry into a certain society.


In 1993, in a challenge to convert his Christian wife to Islam, Walid studied the Hebrew Scriptures.


Within six months, he decided that everything he had been taught about the Jews was a lie.


Convinced he had fought his whole life on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy,


speaking to tens of thousands at churches, synagogues, and civic groups, and to government leaders and media about the cause of Israel.


For that, he was marked by the jihadists for death—and by many in the American media as a bigot and a charlatan.


As we sat by the hotel pool, steam rising from its surface and from our coffee cups, he told me that soon I would be marked as well.


“I have a real concern with your security,”


he told my wife and me.


“You both need to understand that as Kamal becomes better known, you will need to eat, sleep, and breathe security.”


Victoria looked at me, concern straining her eyes.


Walid had been speaking out against radical Islam for five or six years by then, but I had only recently joined the fight.


I could tell he thought me an innocent who was far too willing to think the best of the other guy in the room, unworried about embracing, shaking hands, and sharing personal stories.


He had learned the hard way to be more careful.


“I was targeted several times,”


he told us gravely.


“They tried to find me and my family. We had to keep moving from place to place, hiding. To find a safe place, I eventually had to move out of the country.”


Walid’s grim manner sent fear spearing through my heart.


He reminded us of what had happened to Zakariah Anani, the third member of our trio, who had received multiple death threats.


In Canada, jihadists burned up his car and burned down his house.


“Every one of us in the Shoebat family is continually conscious of our environment, our surroundings,”


Walid said.


“We wonder, are we being followed? Are we being watched? It is always at the forefront of our minds.”


I looked at my wife and could see reality beginning to sink in on her face.


Walid was telling us that if we continued on this path, our lives would never be the same.


“Move often,”


he urged.


“Get an 800 number. Make sure that your real name never appears on any documents.”


He told us to hire a registered agent to handle all our business transactions and never to reveal where we live.”


… Beirut, Lebanon 1964 (back track again, this is how the book was organised – back and forth).


In madrassa, Mother loved to talk about how her ancestor warriors, Arabs and Turks, had used their thick and heavy swords to lop off the heads of Jews.


They were men of great courage, she said.


Muslim warriors were clever and strong, first piercing the enemy’s armor with their swords, then severing the infidels’ arms from their bodies.


“Now the Jews and Christians could not raise their swords against the Muslim fighters,”


Mother told us.


“And that’s when the Muslims chopped off the infidels’ heads.”


… The teaching at the mosque was like the teaching at my mother’s kitchen table, only brought to full flower.


True Muslims, the imams said, were to complete the conquest Muhammad had begun, to establish a global calipha, or world dominance.


The imams taught us that the life call of the devout Muslim is to become a missionary zealot.


To do the world a favor and rip it from its sin and lust and idolatry, whether by conversion or by death.


If we did not, we learned, Allah would someday judge us.


We also learned about the value of forming cells of committed “brothers” and the importance of joining a small enemy against a greater enemy.


We learned the doctrine of al toqiah, or lying to our enemies for the sake of Islam.


And we learned that all our enemy’s property—his women, his children, his money, his house—belonged to us.


We were to sleep with the enemy’s women and populate the world with faithful Muslim children.


“No army should be more powerful than the army of Allah!”


One imam or another would shout from the pulpit, sometimes brandishing a stick or a sword.


“No nation should be richer than a Muslim nation. And in whatever nation you live, you must call for Shariah law!”


Religious law, the law of Islam.


I did not know the word theocracy then, but that is what the imams meant.


In response, we shouted the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood:


“Allah is our objective!

The Prophet is our leader!

The Koran is our law!

Jihad is our way!

Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope!”


Often, Abdul Rahman took me aside for individual instruction.


I felt singled out, special.


And it was Abdul Rahman who taught me that hatred itself is important.


“Allah examines the heart of the true believer,”


he told me once, his eyes blazing over the pages of an open Koran balanced on a kursi.


“In order to be pleasing to Allah, we must hate our enemies with our whole heart.”


We hated the Jews, of course, and that was the reason for our hatred of America.


Besides despising her loud, gaudy women and loose ways of living, we knew that if it were not for America, Israel would not exist.


In relation to this topic, the imams spoke often about the Palestinians and about what the Jews, in league with the Americans, were doing to them.


Over time, I would learn that the Palestinian “issue” was a carrot.


The truth was that most Muslims saw the Palestinians as a scrubby little minority group, a burden on the rest of us.


But their cause gave the Muslim fascists a reason to bark at America.


I did not know that then.


Instead, I drank in all this teaching like a sun-scorched desert wanderer who, finding water, does not pause for a sip, but flings his whole body in, letting the healing moisture soak into every inch of his skin.


For me the teaching of the Muslim Brotherhood and, even more so, their protection and acceptance quenched the thirst caused by my family’s rejection.


I had become part of something important.


I belonged.


These men had vision, passion, power.


Perhaps most importantly of all, they seemed to care about me in a way that my father did not.


One day about three months after I first found refuge at the mosque, a Palestinian man named Abu Jihad came to visit.


… Then he said:


“You must learn how to fight, how to use weapons, how to defend yourselves.”


… But I did not know they were training new soldiers.


The very thought thrilled me.


But I was sure Abu Jihad did not mean they would train someone as young as me


At that moment, Abdul Rahman looked across the circle at me.




he said, eyes twinkling.


“Would you like to go, too?”


The large crowd of men and boys who had arrived with Abu Jihad that first day thinned quickly.


After the novelty wore off, many lost their enthusiasm and desire.


… But I had found my calling.


… In a few weeks’ time, I completed several phases of training.


Some days, I sat in lecture-style classes learning weapons fundamentals.


Other days, I reported with the remaining trainees to the target range, where we live-fired 7mm and 9mm pistols and various Soviet-made Kalashnikov rifles.


In our camp was a leader named Abu Yousef who seemed to take a special interest in me.


Though I was only seven, I had inherited my father’s lean blacksmith’s frame.


I was much taller than other boys my age, and as tall as some much older.


My size combined with my fiery, unquestioning faith may have been what drew Abu Yousef to me.


… Abu Yousef hated the Jews so intensely that it physically pained him.


Whenever he mentioned them, he also mentioned the Christians.


“They are deceivers, Kamal,”


he said to me one day after evening prayers at the mosque.


“These people, the Jews and the Christians, will kill us someday if we don’t kill them first.”


I thought about Eli and Marie, my Christian friends.


I did not want to kill them.


But had not Abu Yousef and the Brotherhood loved me unconditionally?


Did they not talk to me about important things, grownup things, while all my family did was take my money and send me back out to work and be beaten again?


In the fedayeen, I had found vision and clarity and purity of love, a growing certainty of what was right and what was wrong and to whom I belonged.


And so, I believed Abu Yousef.


I believed him absolutely.


After a couple of months, he began treating me as a leader of the “young brothers,” the boy recruits, and seemed to trust me.


When he stopped to take a smoke, he often asked me to follow him into the large, flat-roofed hangar at Sabra.


Sometimes, he quizzed me on what I had seen and heard around the camps.


Other times, he thought aloud about Arafat, the Palestinian struggle, and what was going on in the larger world.


Abu Yousef told me he had met Arafat in Egypt some years before, even before he founded Fatah.


The son of a Cairo textile merchant, Arafat was a university graduate, a civil engineering major with an idealistic streak.


In the mid-1950s, he connected with two Palestinians, both members of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Arafat the Egyptian quickly adopted the Palestinian cause as his own and by the late 1950s had founded Fatah, a group dedicated to liberating Palestine from the Zionists through armed struggle.


I was young and could not follow the thread of Arafat’s relationship with Abu Yousef.


But I gathered that Arafat trusted him enough to place him in a high-ranking position with al-Asifah, the armed Fatah element to which I now belonged.


… At first, I did not know any of the younger boys in training.


But I soon made friends with a boy named Yahya (John, in English) who was in my training group.


He was not from my neighborhood, but I knew who his family was and where he went to school.


Another kid had recruited him and brought him to the camp.


Yahya and I had become fast friends through many weeks of training together.


Our hearts were alike, each searching for something we were too young to name.


In Fatah, we had found a cause to rally to and an enemy to rise against.


We had also found a common code.


And even though the code’s beating heart was violent death, we considered it a code of honor.


One night at twilight, the fedayeen staged invasion training.


The course, made of barbed wire stretched like a net about a half-meter off the bare ground, simulated a booby-trapped enemy perimeter.


At intervals, our trainers had buried a series of flat, round stones that were about the size of Israeli land mines.


Our test was to belly crawl beneath the wire, probing the dirt with the points of our knives to check for these false mines along the way.


To simulate the danger of the explosives, our trainers would fire live ammo over our heads.


I was a little nervous about that part; it would be the first time anyone had shot at me.


But so far, the training had seemed more like camp or a game.


I had not yet grasped the high price of a real bullet.


By the time the exercise began, most of the light had already leaked down over the horizon.


I stood with Yahya and a couple dozen other boys and men at the mouth of the wire.


We wore khaki pants, white T-shirts, and green canvas boots. Fedayeen warriors stood alongside the course, aiming AK–47s over our heads.


One man wielded a Russian DShK (pronounced “Dushka”), an anti-aircraft gun.


I glanced at the big weapon, then lined up behind Yahya to enter the course.


“Ready!” cried the feda’i holding the DShK.


I looked straight ahead and took a deep breath.


“Go!” Yahya dove under the wire and I fell in behind him, pulling myself forward with my elbows, the bottoms of Yahya’s boots in my face as I dragged my belly across the rocky ground.


Bullets snapped overhead and above the rifles’ rattle, our trainers’ voices boomed.


“Ya-ela! Ya-ela, enshi!”


Hurry! Go faster!


The DShK roared, drowning out the rifles.


Red and green tracers zinged just above the wire.


I kept my head down and crawled forward madly.


The gravelly hard pack chewed into my elbows and knees, and I was right on Yahya’s tail, willing him to move, move, move!


I sensed the train of others behind me.


Without warning, a sharp pain lanced into my back.


I thought I had been shot, just below the right shoulder blade.


But it was only a bite from the barbed wire that caged us in.


The din of the weapons increased as the fedayeen shot more rounds.


This was both nightmare and dream.


I wanted to quit, and I wanted to win.


I wanted to cry, and I wanted to bellow in triumph.


A stray round bit into the ground beside me, kicking dust into my face.


For the first time, I slowed down, real fear spiking my heart like needles.


Yahya now scrabbled along ahead of me by about the length of two men, stopping at intervals to poke the earth with the point of his knife.


Suddenly I saw Yahya stop.


I do not know why Yahya did what he did next.


I saw the back of his head rise up over the bottoms of his boots.


I froze in disbelief as Yahya seemed to be crawling up.


Up a small incline, a rise in the dirt.


Then Yahya’s head exploded in a gritty mist of blood and bone.


A DShK round had blown off the back of his head.


Horror knotted my gut and I vomited, making a small brown pool in the dirt.


Terror buzzed through my veins, and I burst into tears.


But I had to crawl forward again because of the live fire.


The fedayeen must not have seen Yahya die because they kept shouting and firing.


I squeezed shut my eyes and dragged myself past his body, holding my breath to block out the coppery stench of his blood.


When I was a man’s length beyond Yahya, underneath the rattle of automatic fire, I heard someone behind me wretch.


Still, we had to keep moving.


The finish line seemed a continent away, and I belly crawled at double speed, straining to reach the end as a sleeper strains to wake from a nightmare.


Finally, I saw the end of the course, an escape hatch from the hellfire and the horror that was Yahya’s corpse.


As I crawled the last few meters, I scrubbed my face against my sleeves, not wanting anyone to see that I had cried.


One by one, the trainees behind me reached the end, and when the last boy emerged from beneath the wire net, we ran together and told the leader about Yahya.


When they pulled him out, his head was almost completely gone.


It was nearly full dark.


Some fedayeen whisked Yahya’s body away, and the rest of us gathered around a campfire that someone had built near the edge of the woods.


Even in its circle of warmth, I shivered as my friend’s death replayed itself in my mind over and over again.


Within a few minutes, a middle-aged man I had not seen before materialized to address us.


He was wearing a suit and seemed to be some sort of doctor, yet without warmth.


“You all are alive because you did the right thing,”


he said matter-of-factly.


“You did not take shortcuts. You found the mines and dug them up. On the other hand, Yahya did not do it correctly. He crawled over a mine. If you make the same mistake in the field, you will end up the same way.”


Then the man in the suit turned and walked away.


Yahya’s death shocked me, but never once did I think of leaving Fatah.


Perhaps, this was because Abu Yousef and others mothered me for the next couple of weeks, praising my performance in the invasion training and telling me I was a warrior prodigy.


“You proved your worth that night, Kamal,”


Abu Yousef said.


“You have proven you deserve to be here, fighting for Palestine and for the glory of Allah.”


… Leaning against the tripod for a crew-served machine gun, he touched the end of a cigarette with his lighter flame.


“We are planning a mission into Palestine,” he said. Abu Yousef never called Israel “Israel.”


… Then Abu Yousef looked up at me for a long moment as though weighing whether he should go on.


At last, he spoke.


“I was thinking of asking you if you would like to go on this mission.”


My heart leapt.


I now know how to shoot! I know how to fight!


This was what I’d been waiting for.


“Yes, Abu Yousef!”


I said instantly.


“I will do anything you ask me to do for Allah!”


Looking back on it, I wonder at the horror of a grown man asking a seven-year-old to run guns into a foreign country.


But at that moment, I was completely on fire, overjoyed at my good fortune and my high place of honor.


It turned out I was not the only boy selected for such a high honor.


(Then the real operation started.)


… Qaffin whirled to face us, his face a mask of panic.


“Retreat!” he screamed. “Go back! Go back!”


But it was too late.


From behind us came a high screaming whistle.


Instantly, my brain turned to ice.


My air passage shut down, and I stood rooted in place.


A rocket slammed into the upslope of the gully and my world erupted into a gray storm of earth, smoke, and shrapnel.


The blast wave blew my mouth open.


Gravel flew at shrapnel velocity, embedding in my face and hands.


My legs dissolved into jelly and my knees knocked together.


My bladder let go.


Now I was seeing in slow motion, frame by frame.


A squadron of spinning shrapnel, black steel coils with teeth like a saw, screamed past my head and—Phhhht! Phhhht! Phhhht!—sliced into three boys behind me.


They fell dead.


Terror tore through my chest.


“Mama! Mama! Mama!”


I cried, and my bowels let loose.


Behind me, children screamed and ran in wild circles like fleeing lambs.


Concussive booms split the air as shells thundered down on our position.


More shrapnel spun through the air like bedsprings.


Smoke swirled around me.


“Mama! Mama!”


I screamed. I could not run. I could not even move.


All around me, the lambs fled and I realized many were also crying for their mothers.


In the stampede, Mohammed and I locked eyes.




he cried, running to me, his face twisted in fear.


“Here, Mohammed! Come here!”


I stretched out my arms to my friend, and he ran up to me and stopped.


Then his shirt exploded.


Some great force lifted him up and back, nearly folding him in half.


His eyes snapped back and his mouth flew open, but he did not scream.


Mohammed fell backward at the speed of the shrapnel and bounced once off the dirt.




I screamed.


“I promised!”


In that moment, terror released its grip.


My legs worked again, and I bent over my friend, hoisting him up over my shoulder, the way we had learned in camp to carry our wounded.


Mohammed. I’ve got to save Mohammed.


Shells exploded around me, sending up dirt volcanoes.


Struggling under Mohammed’s weight, I stumbled through the firestorm back in the direction of the tunnel.


Suddenly, the shelling stopped.


Now only bullets whistled past.


Behind me, I heard the trammel of boots.


Israeli foot troops.


Chasing us!


Ahead of me, a boy blew apart as a round pierced the TNT in his pack, turning him into a human bomb.


Chunks of his body rained down around me.


Mohammed’s legs bounced against my chest.


His torso hung down my back, soaking my Bedouin disguise with blood.


A crackle of gunfire. Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!


Israeli bullets meant for me pierced Mohammed’s body.


Fresh terror peeled my eyes open wide as I searched frantically for the tunnel entrance.


But I could not find it.


My heart pounded in my ears.


The boots were louder now.


I could hear the soldiers calling out to each other in Hebrew.


I gave up on the tunnel and ran toward some mountains I knew to be on the Syrian side.


Then I saw two rockets blaze over me from the west, toward Israel.


The Syrians were engaging!


The rifle fire behind me stopped, and I could hear the Israeli boots running in the other direction.


“Mohammed, hold on,”


I whispered to my friend as I stumbled through the desert scrub.


“I will take you home to your mother.”


Mohammed did not answer.


The instant I set foot in Syria, I spun my friend off my back and laid him on the ground.


He felt as flat and limp as a doll made of rags.


His face was grey, his dish-dash a shredded, scarlet mess.


“Mohammed, wake up!”


I yelled into his face, my own tears streaming.


“Wake up! I promised Salma (Mother of Mohammed)!”


Mohammed only lay there, the whites of his eyes pointed up at the Syrian sky.


I thought that if I talked to Mohammed, he would somehow be jarred from his sleep.


He would stand up and brush off his clothes and we would march home to tell the harrowing tale of how he had almost been killed by the Jews.


“Mohammed, speak to me!”


I yelled into his face.


“Wake up! I promised!”


The echo of rockets and machine guns subsided until the only thing I could hear was my own wails.


Dimly, I became aware of Syrian soldiers gathering around me, reaching down to pull me away.


“He’s dead,”


one of them said.


“You cannot bring him back.”


“No! No!”


I screamed, fighting off their hands.


He could not be dead.


My worst nightmare could not be true:


That the friend I was supposed to save had saved me instead, shielding my body with his own as I fled like a coward.


I thought that maybe that was how hell would be:


a black chaos that echoed with screams and a beast-feeding on children who could not run fast enough.


Our band of fedayeen made the bloody trip home, and it was dark when we arrived back in Beirut.


The news had traveled faster than we had, and women lined the streets, their screams of grief echoing off the buildings.


Mohammed’s body rode in a cart, along with other children who had been killed but not blown apart.


I walked beside this cart all the way to Mohammed’s house.


His mother stood on the street, waiting for me.


She looked down at me, the dark night a frame around her head, the moonlight picking out tears on her cheeks.


“You promised,”


she said.


My stomach rolled with shame, but I did not look away.


“Yes, I promised.”


“He is in a better place,”


she said.


“He is before the throne of Allah.”


Then she put her fingers in her mouth and began screaming.


Not a scream of grief, but of celebration.


That her boy Mohammed had died a hero’s death, a martyr’s death, the death of al-shaheed.


Her son was in paradise.


Little by little, other mothers joined her screaming until the streets echoed with a chorus of keening, celebrating grief.


None of the mothers knew that we “brave” soldiers had dissolved into little boys, crying for our mothers.


They did not know that Qaffin ran for his life, leaving the children, slow and many carrying heavy packs, to be mowed down by the bloodthirsty Jews.


Mohammed’s mother did not know that I had stood locked in place, peeing myself while her boy took the shrapnel.


No one knew of my cowardice.


They saw me as a hero, rescuing my wounded friend, risking my own life to carry him back to his own country.


But I knew.


Kamal, the warrior prodigy, the future of Islam, had not even had the courage to pull a gun from my knapsack and shoot one bullet back.


I loathed myself.


Shame tore at my soul.


I thought of hell again, the darkness, the screams.


I did not know why the beast of the desert had taken my friend and left me.


Maybe his belly was full.


… Slowly, the anguish of losing Mohammed hardened into anger, and the seed of hatred planted in me now bloomed into a dark vine, its flowers the color of blood.


Over the next year, I went on to higher and more glorious training, learning weapons and tactics that would help me fight against specific enemies—the Russians, Germans, Israelis, and Americans.


I yearned to fight again, half my heart committed to proving myself, the other half still hoping to die, as I should have there on the Syrian border.


Over and over, my mind replayed the moment when the shrapnel cut down Mohammed.


His mouth snapping open, the burst of blood from his chest, the rag-doll way his body hit the ground.


I could not put the image out of my brain.


I could not escape the fantasy of flinging myself off the cliffs that ran between the city and the foamy rocks.


Would not Allah’s plans succeed more perfectly without me?


… A Palestinian anthem now blared from a bullhorn speaker mounted somewhere in the rafters.


After what seemed like five full minutes of screaming, Arafat raised both arms, nodding graciously, and the fedayeen settled to a low murmur, then silence.


I sat back down directly across from the platform, not fifteen feet away.


Then the great Leader began to speak.


“Jerusalem is our target,”


Arafat said solemnly.


“Allah has given us that land. It belongs to us. The Jews took it with the help of the English. We must take it back, through the power of Allah.”


Many think the PLO was a secular group.


It was not.


Arafat then read to us from the Koran, although I do not remember from which sura.


He also spoke of the Palestinian movement, the justice of the cause, and the deplorable conditions in which his people were forced to live.


It would be through soldiers like us, he said, brave and committed fighters, that his people would be liberated and restored to the Palestinian homeland now occupied by the filthy Jews.


“We will achieve victory through fighters like you,”


Arafat proclaimed, and I was astonished to see that he was pointing his finger directly at me.


My heart leapt in my chest.


I stole wild glances at the boys to my left and my right to see if I was dreaming, that they might elbow me awake.


But those boys were staring goggle-eyed at Arafat, who now stepped down off the platform and, in four steps, planted his boots directly in front of me and reached down with his right hand.


I looked up into Arafat’s face and saw that he was smiling.


His thick glasses magnified his eyes so that they seemed huge, floating just below the lenses.


I put my hand in his and he pulled me to my feet, turned me to face the crowded hangar, tucking me under his right arm.


I could smell his sweat, the product of the warm spring day.


“It is young men like Kamal who will be our great liberators!”


he declared grandly.


My head spun.


Yasser Arafat knows my name!


Then Arafat turned, put one hand on each of my shoulders and kissed my forehead, his breath bearing tales of garlic and onion.


The crowd screamed and clapped.


Arafat released me and I, dazed and soaring with joy, sat back down, the boys around me slapping me on the back.


If Yasser Arafat said I would be a great liberator, maybe I was not a coward after all.


Maybe Mohammed’s death was not my fault.


The moment was a turning point, a rebirth.


For months, I had wanted to drown myself or crawl into a hole and die.


But now my zeal returned.


My spirit for jihad was renewed.


… Colorado Springs

2008 (Kamal Saleem has turned his back on Radical Islam).


The Air Force Academy lecture hall was a huge amphitheater with seats rising in semicircular rows from a ground-level stage.


The room was modern, with booths for electronics and projection equipment near the top rows of seats.


I did not know it then, but organizers had switched the venue at the last minute to ensure better security.


As conference attendees filed in and filled in the rows, I noticed at least a dozen armed guards posted along the outermost walls, and at intervals along the steps that led from the bottom to the top of the hall.


Some wore handguns in holsters; others carried rifles.


… Now it was my turn.


As I took the podium to polite applause, I looked up into the auditorium.


Uniformed cadets and officers filled most of the seats.


Sprinkled in between were international guests—students from overseas universities, including schools in the Middle East.


The night before, I had stayed up until 1 A.M. going over my speech.


I wanted to make clear to the audience how a boy could be raised a killer.


I wanted to share some of the things my mother had taught me, like the time she told me,


“If you kill a Jew, your right hand will light up before the throne of Allah, and you will go straight to heaven.”


Also, she taught me that to kill a Christian you must have a reason.


“If he spits on your hand, you can retaliate,”


she said.


“Kill him in self-defense.


But for a Jew, you do not need a reason.


That he is a Jew is enough.”


When your mother loves and cares for you, when she is hardworking and devout, when the people in the neighborhood straighten up in her presence, then you believe whatever she teaches you in the family kitchen.


I never doubted her. Not once.


… Now I took the podium and began to tell my story.


My story.


… I told of growing up in Lebanon, tutored in the ways of al-shaheed, the martyrs for Allah…


…of dreaming at age six that I caused Allah, a rigid, stone-faced god, to laugh with delight as I lopped off the heads of infidels with my mighty sword…


…of being recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and introduced to the PLO at age seven…


…of carrying small arms and ammunition into Israel, carrying a knapsack and disguised as a Bedouin boy…


…of undertaking a life whose central pulse was the hatred of Jews and Americans…


…of coming to America to destroy her from the inside out.


“I loved Allah with all my heart,”


I told the AFA audience.


I shared from the Koran the sura that says that if Muslims refuse the call of jihad, Allah will replace them with better Muslims;


and another sura in which even the stones and trees say,


“There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!”


During my talks, I always watch my audience.


I can tell immediately who is with me and who is not.


At the academy that day, I heard whispering from the gallery.


Low in the amphitheater, I saw two Middle Eastern men, and next to them, two women who could have been Middle Eastern, but might also have been Pakistani.


All four glared at me and whispered loudly among themselves.


High in the amphitheater, I saw two slim blond men dressed in civilian clothes.


They were doing the same thing.


I pressed on:


“At the assault camp, I learned to hate the Great Satan.


The PLO showed us propaganda movies in which Christians and Jews acquired Muslim blood to use in their religious ceremonies.


These films told us that the Americans were poisoning our water and air in order to destroy our world.”


… The Middle Eastern group began shaking their heads.


Their whispering grew louder.


“We sang hate songs calling for the destruction of the infidels.


Part of the lyrics talked about building a ladder to glory out of the skulls of Americans and Jews,”


I continued.


“And every Friday at the noon prayers, we cast violent curses against America, her leaders, and their seed and called for the spilling of their blood, that they would die by the sword.”


The hall became quiet as now it seemed that even my critics were in shock at what I was sharing.


I told them how groups like the Islamic Thinkers Society, which has some common ideology with al-Qaeda, supported al-Muhajiroun, demonstrated on a New York street corner in exercise of their “free-speech rights.”


While stomping on and tearing up an American flag, they publicly laughed at Americans for being stupid while they used their constitutional rights to argue that the Constitution should be replaced with Sharia law and the country ruled by a new Islamic caliphate.


I told them how Omar Ahmad, founder of the “moderate” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said,


“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith…[but] should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”


I heard whispering again and looked up to see the blond men with their heads together.


Glancing to my right, I saw an MP staring hard at them.


Next, I shared how I came to America and preyed on the weak and the poor, speaking in various mosques and universities, raising funds for the cause of jihad.


And then I spoke more from the Koran itself, the holy book where I learned my deadly philosophy:


Sura 2:191 — “Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them.”


Sura 9:123 — “Murder them and treat them harshly.”


Sura 9:5 — “Fight and slay the pagans, seize them, harass them, and lie in wait for them with every trick.”


Sura 8:12 — “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads.”


Now I addressed the audience with force:


“Wake up, America! You must arise! You must wake up to the issue of radical terrorism.”


A brief shower of applause rolled over the whispering like a wave.


“In the mid-1980s,”


I continued,


“I had an accident and met three American men who loved me and showed me kindness that completely changed my life.


Today, I wish to expose the hatred and evil from which I came so that I can make Americans and the West truly understand the threats that face our great nation and the free world.


When Walid, Zak, and I believed and fought for Islamic fundamentalism, we were willing to die for the prize of jihad.


Today, we come with a new truth.


Now we love this country and live for her, standing and fighting for America as Americans.”


America 1985–1991


In the Davids’ living room, I began to accept that what I had learned about Christians and Americans was a lie.


And if that was a lie, founded in the teachings of radical Islam, what else had I learned that was untrue?


I had devoted my life to Allah, spilled my blood for him, killed for him.


After I left the Davids’ house, a spiritual earthquake shook the depths of my soul.


It was like the collapsing hotel roof times one thousand, the walls and ceilings of my faith crashing down on my head.


I wanted with every particle of my soul to believe Islam.


I did not want to believe that I had committed my whole life to a lie.


That I had killed for a lie.


In my apartment, there was a place I prayed, a window facing east.


One morning not long after I moved out of the Davids’ house, I fell on my knees there, the sun streaming onto my face.


My heart desperate within me, I raised my hands to heaven and cried out,


“Allah, my Lord and my King! Why did you allow such a thing to happen to me?


Why did you put me in the hands of those Christian people?”


I do not remember the exact words of my prayer, but they poured out of me in a torrent of confusion.


The Davids and their friends did not seem to be the evil people I had always hated.


They were people who call on their God and received what they prayed for.


They prayed for healing and received healing.


They prayed for answers and received answers.


“They hear their God speak,”


I cried.


“I want to have a relationship like that with you.”


But the room rang with silence.


Dimly, I was aware of the thick layer of dust that coated every surface of the apartment, the result of many weeks of neglect.


The sun beat on me through the eastern window.


“I want to hear your voice!” I cried. “Allah, I want to hear that you love me. If you are real, speak to me.”


I poured all my hope and faith into my prayer.


But there was only silence.




Not one dust particle moved.


A deep sadness engulfed me.


My whole life had been a vain masquerade, I decided.


Empty and void.


There is no place for me to go.


There is nothing left for me.


My mind skipped across the apartment to the laundry room.


There, under the carpet near the washing machine, I kept several weapons.


I stood and went to retrieve a 9 mm.


What was left except to put it to my head and pull the trigger?


An eye for an eye.


My eye for many eyes.


But as I bent to lift the edge of the carpet, I heard a voice.


“Kamal, the Muslims believe in the God of Father Abraham, and so do the Jews and the Christians. Why don’t you call on the God of Father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?”


The voice was so strong, so powerful, so real.


And I knew I would never have thought such thoughts on my own.


Terrified not to listen, I rushed back to the window and fell on my knees again.


I cried out in a loud voice, with every fiber within me,


“God of Father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, if you are real, speak to me! God of Father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, if you are real, I want to know you!”


Then, for the first time in my life, a miracle happened in front of me.


The window brightened until its frame disappeared.


The entire room was flooded with light.


In this light, there was overwhelming peace and joy.


My heart leapt within me because I knew it was the light of God.


“Who are you, my Lord?” I cried.


A voice spoke in my heart:


“I am that I am.”


“What does that mean?”


I called out.


“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”


the voice said.


“I have known you since before the foundation of the world.”


“My Lord, I will live and die for you!”


I said.


“Do not die for me,”


the voice said.


“I died for you that you may live.”


At that moment, I knew I met the Christian God.


I knew I had met my Creator.


There was no turning back.


Through the Christian Businessmen, I relearned what I knew about Jesus: that he was a Jew, not a Muslim, as I had been taught.


That he really was the son of God, not merely a prophet or even merely the greatest prophet.


That he died for the sins of the world and on the third day rose again.


That he had made recompense before a holy God for every sin of every man who would simply declare faith in Him.


Even my sins, which were worse than those of any man I knew.


Did that mean I might not someday have to pay an earthly price for the death and destruction I had caused?




But I knew God had accepted me.


Even if I someday reaped human consequences of my crimes, my soul was safe.


That truth burned in the center of my soul like a sacred fire and rinsed my heart clean like a holy rain.


I felt in my bones the words of King David:


“In my anguish, I cried out to the LORD,”


he wrote in the Book of Psalms.


“And he answered by setting me free.”


About ten weeks after I rolled into the Davids’ home in a wheelchair, I was able to walk out the front door on my own.


To replace my totaled RX-7, the Christian Businessmen bought me a nearly-new used car, and I used it to explore a remarkable new freedom.


Now I did not see the future through a narrow tunnel of hatred that would lead to many deaths including my own, but as broad and without limits, promising such simple joys as Abu Fox had offered me outside the cave in Afghanistan.


To enjoy this new freedom, I employed my old tricks, melting permanently into my identity as a Frenchman and moving only in the areas of the city where I knew my old network had not penetrated.


We had targeted poor neighborhoods and prisons.


My new friends were affluent Christians living and working on the opposite end of a sprawling major city.


I quit my old life, as if cutting the chain to an anchor that had kept me stranded on treacherous rocks.


I changed my phone number, bank accounts, everything.


It was not difficult to avoid running into radical Muslims.


But just to be sure, I got a job in a place where I knew no fundamentalist Muslim would ever set foot: a bar and grill that served alcohol and pork.


My new life was like a school where I learned about Americans.


They were a rowdy, friendly group of many colors, I found.


They loved to laugh.


They embraced all faiths, and thought nothing of building a church, a synagogue, a temple, and a mosque on four corners of the same intersection.


They respected their women, made them friends and partners.


I remembered how my father and uncles treated their women as maids and incubators and contrasted that with American men, who did not merely allow, but expected their women to have their own wings.


Americans fought for their own country and for others, not to take them over, but to set them free.


When disaster struck overseas, they sent aid to the hurting without asking first what gods that country worshipped.


They griped noisily about their leaders and did not have to worry that they might be killed for it.


And where Americans had once seemed blind and foolish to trust someone like me, I began to appreciate their embrace of all cultures as a strength that had made this country great.


I fell in love with America.


I fell in love with her people, who, I discovered, were mostly good-hearted, even when they were being blind and human.


After I left the Davids’ house, I began visiting churches on Sundays and learned that in Christianity, houses of worship are as diverse and wonderfully messy as American life itself.


… One Sunday, I was driving down the expressway and saw a huge white church with a tall steeple and a packed parking lot.


I decided to pull in.


… Entering the church sanctuary through wide double doors, I encountered a Sunday celebration such as I had never seen.


In the cavernous, modern room, I saw thousands of people, smiling as they sang, some raising their hands to heaven.


I sat down in a back row and watched, amazed.


They know Him, I thought. They know God!”




For another of Kamal Saleem’s video which gives a different aspect of his life,


Please click on the link below:


Rev George Ong