Groomed for terror, Zak Ebrahim chose a different life. The author of The Terrorist's Son, he hopes his story will inspire others to reject a path of violence.

Why you should listen

When Zak Ebrahim was seven, his family went on the run. His father, El Sayyid Nosair, had hoped Zak would follow in his footsteps -- and become a jihadist. Instead, Zak was at the beginning of a long journey to comprehend his past.

Zak Ebrahim kept his family history a secret as they moved through a long succession of towns. In 2010, he realized his experience as a terrorist’s son not only gave him a unique perspective, but also a unique chance to show that if he could escape a violent heritage, anyone could. As he told, “We must embrace tolerance and nonviolence. Who knows this better than the son of a terrorist?”

In 2014 Ebrahim published the TED Book The Terrorist's Son, a memoir written with Jeff Giles about the path he took to turn away from hate. In early 2015 the book won an American Library Association Alex award.

What others say

“His message is tolerance and peace. And how the son can be different from the father.” — Philadelphia Inquirer, February 3, 2011

Zak Ebrahim’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Zak Ebrahim


8 insider tips: Make an audition video for TED’s Idea Search

November 27, 2016

Here are 8 insider tips to creating a great audition video for the TEDNYC Idea Search. 1. Distill your idea. In a 1-minute video, you have about 150 words to describe your proposed TED Talk. So you can’t — and you don’t have to — give every single detail of your idea. Instead, focus on […]

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“The Terrorist’s Son” wins American Library Association award

February 2, 2015

Zak Ebrahim’s The Terrorist’s Son has won an American Library Association award. The memoir — which became the first TED Book in print in September — was named a recipient of the Alex Award today. A coveted honor, the Alex Award is given to the 10 best adult books of the year that also appeal to young-adult readers. […]

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Impact of Ideas

Empathy paradise: Students at a Jewish Day School reflect on Zak Ebrahim’s experience growing up with an extremist Muslim father

September 23, 2014

With Rosh Hashanah fast approaching, Sara Beth Berman of the Davis Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, wanted to create a lesson for the school’s middle school students around the ideas of empathy and forgiveness. “In the month preceding the Jewish New Year, we talk a lot about how to forgive, how to accept forgiveness, and how […]

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