Archive for the ‘CFR’ Category

written on the wall

February 14, 2014

0As the much hyped government Taliban negotiations, make headline news, allegations, counter allegations, conditions and counter conditions, go on, the people are left in a state of disbelief, for talks and bombing, killing, goes on in parallel.

Do the dead and wounded and those who survive care for the outcome, or want as decisive an action as the extremists undertake?

 take a breath

deep if you can

or even shallow

as you always do,

feel the pain

the scathing burning

acrid taste of burning

tearing down your throat

smell of flesh, clothes and wood

tinged with explosives

even as you look away

and cover your nose

the throat tells you, you have

just been exposed to

a bomb blast.

and as you run

you stumble and fall

shocked to see

beneath your feet

shattered humanity

bleeding, torn, incinerated

and you stand in shock

and one thought

why us? rises

above all in your mind

and you wonder if the

negotiations touted as the

mother of all talks

will have any effect?

and even if they do

will the result of these

bring back the humanity

you just stepped on

back to life



reliving life

being able to love

once again?

and you can see the

writing on the wall

seen by all

but those who matter

confused and unsure between




oblivious to the pain,

loss, suffering and feelings

for they have not suffered

hiding behind their high walls

long convoys in duplicates

moving along different routes

jammers, rerouting traffic

and all spent on the

alter of expediency, the

dead, maimed and wounded

unseen, unsung, unheard.

change, for the sake of your people

your mindset, and realize

and eye for an eye

was written for such as these!

February 13, 2014

8:16 pm

Standing up against militants of K-P: How my father died for Pakistan

June 23, 2013

Standing up against militants of K-P: How my father died for Pakistan

we need to share such stories wherever, by whatever means, and whenever we can – we must show we are not to be cowed down, but will continue to raise our voices against terrorism!

Orphaned by Extremism

September 8, 2012

my article on the lifeafterhate site.


No child is immune to the traumatic effects of terrorism, whether they are in New York, Bosnia, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, London, Lebanon, Rwanda, Kashmir, Darfur, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or elsewhere. And while many children are resilient after traumatic experiences, many develop a variety of emotional and behavioral symptoms that can be severe and long-lasting.

Life Goes On

September 4, 2012

Life Goes On 6.

best depiction ever!

Workshop on “Promoting regional security cooperation: what role for civil society and multilateral engagement?”

April 19, 2012

i have been invited to participate in the workshop on “Promoting regional security cooperation: what role for civil society and multilateral engagement?” on 26-27 April at the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore.

i have been asked to make opening remarks during the panel on countering violent extremism, and share some thoughts on how survivors of terrorism can help counter the appeal of violent extremism.

any suggestions on what to say and how to approach this are welcome. thank you in advance for your input.

Allah bless and keep you safe.

Background papers at:

1.       Civil Society and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges

2.       Countering Terrorism in South Asia: Strengthening Multilateral Engagement

3.       Strengthening Regional Security Cooperation and Capacity in South Asia: Key Observations, 17-18 October 2011 –

4.       UN Counterterrorism site –

thought for the day

November 13, 2011

right but irrelevant – interesting combination!

Reflections on the Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) Dublin, Ireland June 26 – 29, 2011

July 12, 2011

It took SAVE for me to understand the depth of Nelson Mandela’s words “Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundations of one’s spiritual life. Development in matters of this nature is inconceivable without introspection, without knowing yourself, your weaknesses and mistakes.” (Conversations with Myself)

This is what was happening at Dublin, everyone gave unconditionally, honestly and sincerely. We all shared and gave something for the others to cherish and take home – words, gestures, looks, an occasional tear, lots of hugs, and many a silence.

Recurring words during the Summit: exciting, amazing, very good, interactions, incredible, conversations, ideas, opportunities, think/do.

Quote from Google email of June 16, 2011: The Google Ideas team are incredibly excited about welcoming you to our upcoming Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) in Dublin. This is an extraordinary group that we are bringing together from all different backgrounds, countries, languages, experiences, and organizations. We believe in what all of you are doing and in what we can achieve together as a broader cross-cutting community – so much so that we decided to make this the very first Google Ideas initiative. In association with Council on Foreign Relations and Tribeca Film Festival, we are convening this Summit in the spirit of collaboration, teamwork, ideas, and action. Just by being here, we have already achieved what many thought was impossible, and when we depart Dublin, we will shock the world again with what can happen when a diverse group of positive activists seeking to affect change can do when they band together around the common goal of standing against violent extremism. Unquote.

Thank you Google: Let me begin by saying that from the first contact by the team Google Ideas/SAVE, till I got on the plane to return, all the activity was handled with immaculate precision and coordination, courtesy and deference to the cultural and social needs of the participants. The underlying theme for the hosts seemed to be patience. It got rubbed on to the participants too!

Reflections about the summit and some comments.

If I have missed anyone, or anything that we talked about, I apologize for it is an error of omission and not commission, and I would love to be corrected as necessary and will gladly make amends.

The evening of reaching Dublin, we had two events, 1) Welcome for formers and survivors with Jared Cohen in the hotel lobby coffee shop, followed by, 2) Welcome evening for all delegates in the hotel bar and restaurant area.

One of the activities on the evening was the Bio-Cards of the participants with name left blank, which we had to fill in with the name of the person whose bio we thought it was, and drop it in a raffle bin, the person who gave the correct name would win for both, the person whose bio it was and the person who filled the card, a trip to the Tribeca Film Festival 2012.

A while into the evening, as I stood talking to some delegates, I saw a gentleman in the brown “thobe” of the African continent talking to Gill Hicks and Carie Lemack, on the table which I had just left. Shortly thereafter, he came up to me with a smile and introduced himself as Imam Sani Isah and pointing to the bio-card in his hand asked me if I knew this gentleman, I looked at the card and it had my bio on it, I smiled and said so, we hugged, and he asked me to write my name on it so it would be right, he said Gill pointed me out!

The first friendship of the summit was formed for me then. The next day at the Dinner at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham the draw had Imam Sani Isah card come out, and both he and I won the trip to the Tribeca Film Festival!

Some comments / reflections / interesting encounters:

• The team members on Team 12 for coming up with the idea for the documentary; Tony, Allison, Scott, Pastor James, Waseem, Alistair, Sasha, and Chris, for the brainstorming and wonderful ideas to make a workable project of all the thoughts.

• Frank Meeink (USA), Rudy Corpus(USA), Muhammad Manwar Ali (UK), Imam Sani Isah (Nigeria) my co-panelists will be with me in my efforts all the time now.

• Noman Benotman ex-leader of the Libyan Jihadis who was with Bin Ladin & Zawahiri in Afghanistan, is a remarkably soft spoken person, who it is hard to see as a former. We talked of his trips to Pakistan and how he had seen it change over the years.

• Anne-Marie Slaughter (USA) quoted the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “The strong man is not one who wrestles his opponent to the ground. The strong man is the one who controls himself when angry,” which Yasmin Mulbocus had quoted in her talk earlier.

• Gary Knell (USA) President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop and I had a nice breakfast conversation about the dubbing of Sesame Street into Urdu and broadcasting it on television in Pakistan later this year, and how Big Bird could spread the message of peace. Later in the day we saw a premiere of a clip on bullying that will be telecast to over 30 million kids later this year. Once it is aired here, it could be a good medium to spread peace building skits.

• Arno Michaels (USA) former co-founder of the largest racist skinhead organization on Earth and I had more than one talks, I am proud to have his book “My Life After Hate” inscribed by him for me!

• Sue Hanisch (UK), whose leg was blown off by an IRA bomb at London’s Victoria Station in 1991 and I sat together for dinner at Fallon & Byrne and had nice conversation.

• Susan Cruz (USA) and her two wonderful daughters, apart from talking during the summit, we sat on the same table for dinner on day 2.

• Jo Berry (UK) who I had come to know over the internet / facebook, and I became friends, exchanging lots of ideas and stories, over the two days. Her meeting Pat Magee, the man who placed the bomb that killed her father, and working with him, gave me many moments of thought of what would be my reaction if I were to meet the bomber who killed my wife?

• Robi Damelin (Israel) whose 28 year old son, David, was shot and killed by a sniper while serving in the Israeli Reserve Force in March 2002, is a resolute woman. I found her to be strong, brave, and cheerful, but under all this a survivor who had lost a son.

• Gill (UK), Carie (USA) and Febby (Indonesia), the reunion was most welcome, we had nice chats in-between sessions and caught up with what had been happening in our lives since we last met. Gill wrote a warm note for me on her book ‘One Unknown.”

• Angela King (USA) I found it hard to believe that such a warm, soft spoken person could be a former. We talked of our work, and hope to continue sharing our experiences.

• Rudy Corpus (USA) gave me the United Playaz’s friendship band, with the comment you come to my city and wear this, my whole tem will be looking after your back to keep you safe!

• Maajid Nawaz (UK), now a former member of Hizb ul Tahrir (HT), founding member of HT in Denmark and Pakistan now is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Quilliam, the world’s first counter-extremism think tank, and Founder of Khudi, Pakistan’s first counter-extremism youth democracy social movement. Though I had very little interaction with him, yet his presence was very much there as he went about the summit.

• Fatima Mullick, The Khudi Team, UK and Pakistan, I hope we can meet up on her next trip to Pakistan and work together for the Khudi effort.

• Khurshid Ahmad Nadeem, Organization for Research and Education, Pakistan, we talked about putting together a program on Television about survivors, terrorism from a new perspective, follow up will be done on this. I have his booklet, “Approaching Conflicts – Muslim Society’s Perspective”

• T J Leyden (USA) was the first to come up to me after the last panel discussion and say “Tahir, I will never change the channel ever again,” I have no reason not to believe him.

• Denver De Zylva, Virtusa, Sri Lanka, working for the rehabilitation of Tamil and other former militants. Has created software that is interactive and integrates latest technology to create a data base that performs multi functions related to the beneficiaries of the resettlement program.

• Aicha al-Wafa (France). I had seen Aicha el-Wafa on TED talks some time back, when I told her this, she was very happy and we had a nice chat (with an interpreter) and had a picture together.

• Usama Hassan, UK, a former, The City Circle UK, we had a few good conversations, and hope to continue our interactions in the future.

• Ed Hussain of the Council on Foreign Relations and I talked a bit about the PakTSN and how we could collaborate to further the cause of the setting up of the network in Pakistan, and collaborating in the future.

• Salim Mohamed Nasir, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, and I had exchanged emails about my article and his using it with his students; we also talked about how he could use more of the stuff on my blog etc. hope to continue.

• Dr. Rony Berger, Brit Olam, Israel. We had a nice conversation and talked about his work a bit. Hope to keep up our interaction.

• S Rajendran (India), had an exchange of ideas over breakfast about his writings, we will follow up on how we may do more about the issue of terrorism.

• Also exchanged ideas with, Marina Cantacuzino, The Forgivness Project UK; Daniyal Noorani, Pakistan; Ginn Fourie, Lyndi Fourie Foundation, South Africa; Dr Edit Schlaffer, Women Without Borders, Austria; Tehseen Ullah Khan, National Research and Development Foundation, Pakistan; Noor Huda Ismail, Institute for International Peace Building, Indonesia; Abdul Rehman Malik, radicalmiddleway, UK; Kamran Bokhari, Stratfor Global Intelligence, Canada; Daniel W. Sutherland, National Counterterrorism Center, USA; James M Lindsey, CFR, USA; L Camille Massey, CFR USA; Antony R Thomas, AntonyThomas Productions, UK; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Simon Wiesenthal Center USA; Dr Abdul Haq Baker, University of St. Andrews, UK; Bud Welch, Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, USA; Ian White, Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Ireland; Naachum Pechenick, Israel; and Nyimbi Odero, Independent National Election Commission, Nigeria.

• Megan Smith, Google, USA, we talked about Gmail and some ideas I had about the site/ utility.

• Jarred, Yasmin, Errin, Brendon, the Google team, ever present, ever ready, ever so patient with our little (and some not so little) expressions of what we felt at times!

An important lesson for me has been the realization that while I no role in my becoming a survivor – my being a survivor is the result of a violent extremist, somewhere, making a decision the execution of it in a violent extremist act, resulted in the killing of my wife, and I became a survivor of an act of terrorism.

But, to become an extremist may be circumstantial however, going from extremist to former that needs the courage to think, differentiate, decide and act in the face of opposition, often fearing becoming a victim of an act of violent extremism – and then standing by that decision – bravo formers.

And last but not the least, Arno Michales gave my thoughts about Pakistan’s culture of silence such an eloquent expression right at the beginning of his book ‘My life after hate,’ “I have so much to learn in order to heal. I need people to listen to me. I need to listen to them to facilitate such learning, and damn the scabs if tearing them off is part of the healing process.”

God bless, and God speed everyone at the Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE), as I said to Jarred, we now need to go from SAVE Dublin :-)to WAVE to the world (Work Against Violent Extremism).

Summit Schedule

Sunday 26 June The evening of reaching Dublin.

17:00 – Welcome for formers and survivors with Jared Cohen in the hotel lobby.
18:00 – Welcome evening for all delegates in the hotel bar and restaurant area.

Monday 27 June

Buffet breakfast nods, hello’s and shake hands. Then we walked to the convention centre – 10 minutes of a very pleasant and comfortable walk. The program for the day was:

• Opening Video
• Welcome: (Jared Cohen, Google Ideas)
• Idea 1: Finding Common Ground Between Different Extremes (Gill Hicks, MAD for Peace; Susan Cruz, Sin Fronteras; T.J. Leyden, Hate2Hope; Maajid Nawaz, Quilliam Foundation; Noor Huda Ismail, Sekurindo Global Consulting)
• Fireside Chat: Why are we doing this? (Carie Lemack, Global Survivors Network and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google)
• Graffiti artists at work in the lobby
• Team sessions 1 – introduction, ideation, discussion
• Personal Story: Joining Young in Brazil (Alan Lima, anti-gang activist)
• Idea 2: Patterns of Radicalization: Common Origins but Different Extremes (Farah Pandith, U.S. State Department; Sammy Rangel, Safe Streets Outreach Program; Angela King, consultant; Imam Nurayn Ashafa)
• Personal Story: Renouncing Violence in Iran (Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, journalist)
• Idea 3: Crossing the Threshold: Justifying and Renouncing Violence (Amanda Lindhout, Global Enrichment Foundation; Moe Muhamad, Generation Islam; Henry Robinson, Families Against Intimidation and Terror; Usama Hasan, Imam and Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University; James Muvel Wuye, Interfah Mediation Centre)
• Personal Story: Radicalization and Reconciliation in South Africa (Ntobeko Peni, Amy Biehl Foundation)
• Idea 4: Fostering De-Radicalization: Countering Risks and Increasing Rewards (Chris Isham, CBS; Paul Carrillo, Southern California Crossroads; Yasmin Mulbocus, MAWAH; Tad Stringham, public speaker)
• Devonte Roque – a bit of magic, really entertaining and non stop clapping.
• Personal Story: Magical Salvation (Devonte Roque, Magicians Without Borders, El Salvador)
• Day’s Closing Remarks (Ed Husain, Council on Foreign Relations)
• Dinner at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (with draw for the bio-card raffle)

Tuesday June 28

• Welcome back (Jared Cohen, Google Ideas)
• Colombia: Leveraging Formers and Turning the Tide Against Violent Extremism (His Excellency Alvaro Uribe Valez, Former President of Colombia; Vera Grabe, Center for Peace; Ricardo Ramirez, former FARC member; Benildo Tijeras Maldonado; Mark Henderson, documentary maker)
• Mother to Mother: A conversation with Aicha al-Wafa (Aicha el-Wafa, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui; Anne-Marie Slaughter as host), I had seen Aicha el-Wafa on TED talks ( when I told her this, she was very happy and we had a nice chat (with an interpreter between us) and had a picture together.
• Idea 5: Understanding Ideology & identity as part of the radicalization process: (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton Norman Benotman, Quilliam Foundation; Arno Michaels, Life After Hate; Ben Owens, Detours Monitoring Group)
• Idea 6: Deformed Social Network (Shona Brown, Google; Mubin Shaikh, PhD student; Ruth Rach, teacher; Tim Zaal, Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mario Van Niekerk, GCU Academy)
• Team Session 2 – closing in on ideas –
• Team Session 3 – finalization and preparation of chart for presentation, our team worked on Building Skills – Connecting Youth – Preventing Conflict.
• Graffiti artists at work in the lobby
• Voting on team presentations in lobby
• Sesame Street short video on “bullying and conforming” premiered to the delegates.
• Idea 7: Changing Directions: Countering Violent Extremism with Positive Activism (Jared Cohen, Google Ideas; Frank Meeink, Harmony Through Hockey; Abu Muntasir, JIMA; Imam Sani Isa, Interfaith Mediation Centre; Tahir Wadood Malik, Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network; Rudy Corpuz, United Playaz)
• Closing (James M. Lindsay, Council on Foreign Relations; Jared Cohen, Google Ideas; Ed Husain, Council on Foreign Relations)
• Dinner at Fallon and Byrne [Formers and Survivors only]

Wednesday 29th June [Formers and Survivors only]

• Welcome again, Yasmin Dolatabadi, Google Ideas
• Presentation by Victoria on “the what and why of youtube.”
• Jamie of youtube London about how the staff watches / vet videos.
• Ross of Google, talked of Google Plus. We are still waiting for the invites!
• Summit sessions end
• Closing video:

Free evening to explore Dublin city, an exciting few hours in town, a tram ride after ages, shopping for souvenirs, and looking for halal dinner getting a blank look form the server at McDonald’s, who did not understand Halal or Kosher or Muslim meal. Finally ended up having vegetable pizza, courtesy of two Indian servers at the Papa John joint.

One man’s mission: to counter the lure of Islamist extremists

July 12, 2011

One man’s mission: to counter the lure of Islamist extremists

By Eli Saslow / The Washington Post
Published: July 11. 2011 4:00AM PST

Abdirizak Bihi is an observant Muslim who says it is his responsibility to “save the religion I love from a very small number of extremists.”

Abdirizak Bihi is an observant Muslim who says it is his responsibility to “save the religion I love from a very small number of extremists.”

MINNEAPOLIS — His afternoon meeting was an urgent matter of national security, but Abdirizak Bihi needed to borrow $10 for the gas necessary to get there. The tank in his old truck had sat empty for days, forcing him to ride around town in a dress shirt and tie on a borrowed bicycle. Now he wanted to travel 10 miles, and he wanted to move fast. He walked out of his high-rise apartment building and stopped a friend on the sidewalk to plead for a loan. “I promise it’s for a good cause,” he said. Then Bihi drove off to investigate his community’s latest homegrown terrorist.

Summit Against Violent Extremism – Dublin, 26-29 June 2011

July 3, 2011

Dublin has become a watershed of sorts. Meeting the most wonderfully uninhibited people from such diverse and different backgrounds willing to share their stories, even bitter memories with us all, has been exhilaratingly moving, and humbling experience. i cannot share enough – am at a loss where to start from? God bless and God speed in our work laid out for us at Dublin.

Panel Discussion on Activism had me on the panel

UN Report on Supporting Victims of Terrorism 9 Sept 2008

May 14, 2011

this is where this started.
click for the Report of UN Symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism