When Zak Ebrahim was 7 years old, his father El Sayyid Nosair assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-orthodox anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League.
Then, from prison, three years later, Nosair helped plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – and was later convicted as one of the conspirators.
Nosair’s terrorist acts sent the family into a downward spiral–and for much of his life, Ebrahim lied to people about his identity. In fact, he changed his name to distance himself from his father.
His new memoir, The Terrorist’s Son, is about how he came to accept the truth about his father and seek out peace in his own life.
In today’s interview, Ebrahim talks about his father’s involvement with the 1993 WTC bombing and how that changed things:
“I believe that from his prison cell he would often get visitors and have phone calls with many of the men who would eventually be involved in the World Trade Center bombing and involved in planning the attack.
When my father first went to prison [for the assassination of Meir Kahane], although he had maintained his innocence, there were certain people who thought he had done what he had done, namely because Kahane was seen as a very evil figure in particular in the Muslim community. …
I suppose I thought to myself that even if he was guilty that that was some sort of justification. It wasn’t until after the World Trade Center that it was very apparent that innocent people were being attacked — that even as a child I knew that was wrong and that I couldn’t accept any excuse for that. It was also when I realized that our family would no longer ever be together again."
When Ebrahim was a child, his dad killed a rabbi and helped plan the WTC bombing (the one in 1993) from his prison cell. The radical Muslim community he grew up in expected him to follow his father’s footsteps, but Ebrahim realized hate is a choice.