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A Jihadist’s Tale

How a young Jordanian left his American life and died an insurgent in Iraq. Ra’ed al-Banna loved America. During his nearly two years in the U.S., al-Banna, a lawyer by training, made a living as a factory worker, a shuttle-bus driver and a pizza tosser. He went to the World Trade Center and the Golden Gate Bridge, grew his hair long and listened to Nirvana. He told his family back in Jordan about the honesty and kindness of Americans. “They respect anybody who is sincere,” he told his father. He said he had planned to marry an American woman until her parents demanded that the wedding take place in a Christian church. After a visit home in 2003, he set off again for the U.S., hoping to find a wife, have a family, settle down. “He was hoping for a job that earns a lot of money,” says Talal Naser, 25, who is engaged to one of Ra’ed’s sisters. “He loved life in America, compared to Arab countries. He wanted to stay there.” He never got the chance. After he was denied entry at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for apparently falsifying details on his visa application, al-Banna’s life took a turn that led him down the path of radical Islam and ultimately to join the insurgency against the U.S. in Iraq. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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