“In her memoir of 15 years of covering jihadists, journalist Mekhennet sets out to answer a perennial question: Why do they hate us? As a Muslim woman and brave, resourceful reporter, Mekhennet seems well-suited to the task.”
Featured in Washington Post’s Best 10 Books of 2017.
Souad Mekhennet comes from two different worlds that are often at odds. A Muslim born and brought up in Germany, Souad is a reporter for The Washington Post and has spent her entire life trying to reconcile her two-sided upbringing – Western and Muslim. In doing so, she has also lent her voice to mediation between the two cultures, each one of which often has trouble understanding the other.
I Was Told to Come Alone is a fascinating memoir of Mekhennet’s journeys that start with German neighbourhoods that radicalized the plotters of 9/11, move to Iraq where the Shia and Sunni Muslims often turn against each other and terminate at the border between Turkey and Syria with the presence of the ISIS hanging over everyone’s heads. As she travels through North Africa and the Middle East, she has terrifying run-ins with different intelligence services. She also showcases why the Arab Spring did not live up to its name. After this journey, she returns to Europe and discovers who ‘Jihadi John’ is while she is in London. She then tours through countries such as Belgium, Germany, and France – all countries where terror has struck over and over again.
Men who are on the world’s most wanted lists often refuse to talk to reporters but are willing to speak to Mekhennet because of her heritage. She faces immense personal danger each time she is told to come alone to meet people who are in the inner circles of ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and any organizations associated with them. Even though she doesn’t know what may be in store for her at any of these meets, she isn’t afraid of the danger she faces.