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The Making (and Unmaking) of a Jihadist Mind

The Making (and Unmaking) of a Jihadist Mind

Tawfik Hamid

December 12, 2018

Watch his speaker playlist here

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is a thinker and reformer who was at one time an Islamic extremist. While still in medical school, he was recruited as a member of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the most violent Jihadi group in Egypt. There he became acquainted with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahri, who later served as second in command to Osama bin Laden. Zawahri is now the leader of Al-Qaeda. After being radicalized Dr. Hamid experienced an awakening of conscience, recognized the threat of Radical Islam, and started to teach modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts.

In a seminal article, “The Development of a Jihadist’s Mind,” he described the process of his recruitment and explained how the appeal of jihadi ideas works. In 2015, Dr. Hamid published a book on how to defeat these ideas: Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works; Why It Should Terrify Us; How to Defeat It. Ayaan Hirsi Ali remarked that, “Reformers such as Tawfik Hamid … must be supported and protected. They should be as well known as Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and Havel were in the 1980s.” (Dr. Hamid’s book will be available for purchase at his talk.)

Dr. Hamid’s Facebook page (in Arabic), Modern Interpretation for the Quran, provides a peace-promoting commentary on and understanding of the Quran. The page has garnered over 2,000,000 “Likes” from an Arabic speaking audience since it began in May, 2013. In addition, Dr. Hamid recently launched a YouTube channel (in Arabic) to Counter Radicalism. His channel has more than a quarter million views and more than 1200 other channels subscribe to it. Furthermore, Akbar Al-Youm, one of the Arab world’s most reputable and widespread newspapers, recently published a major article by Dr. Hamid, in Arabic, wherein he suggests ten major, novel principles for re-understanding the Quran in a peaceful way to counter radicalism.

Dr. Hamid has appeared on shows spanning the spectrum from CNN to Fox News and C-SPAN. He has also appeared on Aljazeera TV Channel (Arabic) more than 60 times in the last couple of years, and his articles and op-ed pieces have appeared in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, VOA, France 24, RT (Russia Today), and the Jerusalem Post. Dr. Hamid’s comments have also appeared in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post, the National Journal, and Wired magazine.

He has spoken and testified before/with: the U.S. Congress (House Armed Service Committee); the Future Summit at the invitation of President Shimon Peres; numerous Department of Defense (DoD) offices at the Pentagon; the Special Operations Command; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI); the National Security Agency (NSA); the European Parliament; the New York Academy of Science, and many others.

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