For Zak Ebrahim, a childhood amid terrorism was all he knew. After his father’s incarceration, his family moved more than twenty times, haunted by and persecuted for the crimes of his father. Though his radicalized father and uncles modeled fanatical beliefs, the hateful ideas never resonated with the shy, awkward boy. The older he grew, the more fully Ebrahim grasped the horrific depths of his father’s acts. The more he understood, the more he resolved to dedicate his life to promoting peace.
Zak Ebrahim was only seven years old when, on November 5, 1990, his father, El-Sayyid Nosair, shot and killed the leader of the Jewish Defense League. While in prison, Nosair was linked to the 1993 Trade Center bombing plot and received multiple life sentences during the New York City Landmark Bomb Trail. The New York City landmark bomb plot was a planned follow-up to the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing designed to inflict mass casualties by attacking well-known landmarks throughout New York City. The targets of the plot included the headquarters of the United Nations, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the George Washington Bridge, the St. Regis and U.N. Plaza hotels, and the FBI‘s main New York office. Thankfully, the plot was foiled by an FBI informant.
After several years of hiding his true identity Zak began to speak publicly about his personal path to peace. In 2014 he gave his first TED talk in Vancouver, Canada. He released his first book, The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice through TED Books and Simon and Schuster in September 2014. It won an American Library Association Award in 2015.
Since going public with his story Zak has been asked to share his story at a wide variety of venues such as The World Economic Forum, Virgin-Unite event at Richard Branson’s Necker Island home, the National High School Model United Nations, the RSA, the FBI, the US State Department, US Embassy in Japan, multiple TEDx events, and various high schools and universities across the globe. Zak’s book, The Terrorist’s Son, has also been added to many schools and universities as required reading.
“Ebrahim’s life is an eloquent plea to terrorists — indeed, to anyone who commits violence out of bigotry and hatred — to stop and consider the impact on children. His tale speaks to the suffering of children everywhere — in Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria — who are caught up in the raging intolerance of adults. In emotional detail, the terrorist’s son takes us through the traumas of his life — school bullying, social withdrawal, feelings of suicidal worthlessness — that dogged him from the moment his mother awakened the boy in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas to inform him that something was horribly wrong and they had to flee immediately from their home in Cliffside Park, N.J.” – Washington Post
“Zak was awesome and the event was incredible and very inspiring. He is very thoughtful and genuine while delivering his speech, our guests have been nothing but complimentary of him and his positive message.” – YMCA of Oakville