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Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism (2013)

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Nawaz’s Radical is a riveting tale of conversion from a disillusioned British youth to an unremitting Islamist revolutionary. British by birth and Pakistani by descent, Nawaz was an unwary young boy who, during his adolescence, struggled to assimilate into the predominately Anglo seaside town of Southend. “A moving target,” he bore the burnt of discrimination and harassment at the hands of his classmates, and later and more intimidating, from ultranationalist skinheads. Lost and disgruntled, Nawaz found some solace in the revengeful lyrics and anti-establishment strain of 90s American hip-hop music. Professor Griff, an Islamic zealot and member of the infamous rap group Public Enemy, made a particular impression on the young, credulous Nawaz. His faith was now nothing to be ashamed of, but had now been “re-branded as a form of resistance, as a self-affirming defiant identity.

Nawaz’s background made him particularly susceptible to what he calls the narrative. The narrative gave Nawaz a compelling, alternative explanation for his tribulations: the suffering and attacks he experienced were not isolated incidents, but part of a larger Western affront to destroy Islam. Under the skillful persuasion of a recruiter, Nawaz becomes a member of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. What follows is a sprawling meander through Nawaz’s rise from a novice to a lead recruiter and his stints in Pakistan, Denmark, Palestine, and Egypt. He is careful to salt the gripping narrative with penetrating insights into the inner workings and tactics of a reputable Islamist organization.