Tamer Elnoury, a US undercover agent, on the lessons he has learned in a lifetime of fighting terrorism, and how talking about it can help
Giving them a label is just words. How do we defeat an enemy who is willing to die for a cause that they believe in? That is the question I ask every one of my students at the FBI undercover school before I start my lesson on radical Islam. Over the years, I have heard many different answers, but never the correct one: education. In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them.
The problems start when every Muslim gets painted with the jihadi brush. Jihadis are using a peaceful religion to further their agendas. That's not religion, it's politics. The reality is that radical Islam is a very small minority that twists the Quran to fit its needs. That's why "radical Islam" is a fine blanket term, but the key to defeating it is learning the differences among those who believe radically. They're not all the same, and understanding the fault lines between the different groups will be radical Islam's undoing.
In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them
Banning Muslims from the United States throws gas on the myth that the world is at war with Islam. I believe there should be a strict vetting process, but our world becomes more dangerous when we shut our doors to immigrants.
I was born Sunni Muslim in Egypt and came to the United States when I was just a child. I remember the day that I became a naturalized U.S. citizen - I was ten years old. My parents still sent me to Islamic school every Sunday to maintain my religion. We traveled back to Egypt almost every summer so I'd never forget my culture. My mother only spoke Arabic to me so I'd always know my native language. None of that made me less patriotic. I've served my country for twenty-two years and counting.
Keeping our doors open ensures that when we are threatened by an enemy, we will always have someone who looks like them to help defeat them. Our best defense is inclusion.
More about the author
**As seen on BBC news**
**As featured on BBC Radio 4: Today with Frank Gardner**
‘In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them.’ - Tamer Elnoury
Tamer Elnoury, a long-time undercover agent, joined an elite counterterrorism unit after September 11. Its express purpose is to gain the trust of terrorists whose goals are to take out as many people in as public and devastating a way as possible. It's a furious race against the clock for Tamer and his unit to stop them before they can implement their plans. Yet as new as this war still is, the techniques are as old as time. Listen, record and prove terrorist intent.
Due to his ongoing work for the FBI, Elnoury writes under a pseudonym. An Arabic-speaking Muslim American, a patriot, a hero. To many people, it will be a revelation that he and his team even exist, let alone the vital and dangerous work they do keeping all of us safe.
It's no secret that federal agencies are waging a broad, global war against terror. Now, for the first time, an active, Muslim American federal agent reveals his experience infiltrating and bringing down a terror cell in North America.