The Mind of Terror: a book review

Tass Saaada was a terrorist. He was a sniper for Yasir Arafat’s  Fattah organization. Since those days he converted to Christianity, and founded a non-profit, Hope for Ismael, that works to bring reconciliation between Jews and Arabs, and now spends a bunch of the year ministering to children in the Middle East. He wrote Mind of Terror (with Dean Merrill) to describe what motivates terrorists, and how we ought to respond to it.

978-1-4964-1394-9Part one describes the terrorist mindset, and the root causes of terrorism This includes an examination of honor and shame in Mid-Eastern cultures and reasons why they hate the west. Saada says that among the reasons people become a terrorist include  the violent loss of loved ones,  the firm belief that another person’s faith is corrupt, disgust at Western society’s decadence, a desire for the return of your homeland, discrimination and maltreatment, and the US backing of modern Israel state. The reasons for terror are a mix of ideological commitments and personal experiences.

Part two surveys an evaluates the various responses Westerners make to terrorism in our world: worry, fighting back, naive political solutions, or just chalking it up to end times prophecy.  Against these Saada points us, in part three, to the Jesus way. He explores God’s plan for Isaac AND Ishmael, explores the mind of peace, and discusses how we can neutralize terrorism and share the love of Jesus with our Muslim neighbors. The closing chapters profile Christians who are working among Muslims.There are some really helpful things here about questioning our personal assumptions and being gracious to our Muslim neighbors.

Increasingly, our lives are lived between acts of terror: New York, Boston, Paris, Orlando, Nice. So much of the rhetoric discusses how we can combat the terrorists: stamp out ISIS,  destroy their networks, mete out revenge. Saada brings the perspective and insight of  one who has been involved with terrorism in the past. He understands the root causes and the futility of some  of our responses. Yet he has been transformed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ and desires the same for those in his heritage. This book is neither a fear mongering book or Pollyanna. Terror is real and it destroys lives. But the solution to it is not politics, or war or benign neglect. It is the robust love of Jesus. This is a good book if you would like to understand more of the roots of terrorism and what a Christian response looks like. I give it four star.

Note: I received this book from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

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