THE DAY after the 9/11 attacks, MIT professor Noam Chomsky wrote of the need “to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators.” What struck Daveed Gartenstein-Ross about Chomsky’s response was that “Chomsky made no real effort to enter the minds of the perpetrators. Instead he simply projected his own grievances against the United States onto them.”
Gartenstein-Ross had a much stronger idea as to what motivated the 9/11 attackers. After converting to Islam in college, he held a job at the Ashland, Ore., office of Al Haramain, a Saudi-funded charity that sent money to al Qaeda.
In a fascinating memoir due in stores in February, “My Year Inside Radical Islam,” Gartenstein-Ross describes how he was drawn to Islam because he saw it as a religion of peace.
Over time, however, he watched himself and those around him seduced into a fanaticism that required them to loathe not only non-Muslims, but also Muslims who belonged to the wrong sect, listened to music or shaved. He had expected an open, accepting religion, only to hear sheikhs arguing that Muslims who leave the religion should be killed, that it is acceptable to kill civilians for jihad and that good Muslims should work to replace democratic governments with Shariah law.