I imagine many Americans, when they think about terrorism, have definitive ideas of what it means. I imagine its moral implications are clear. I have to imagine because, for me, there is no such clarity. Instead, I am haunted by the face of a small, haggard woman with a simple white hijab and the eyes of a dead woman walking.
On the night of November 9th, 2005, I was settling into bed, a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small Bedouin village in the north of Jordan. A two hour bus ride south, in the capital Amman, four Iraqis strapped with explosives walked into three hotels. Fifty-four people died, mostly Jordanian and Lebanese Muslims. One bomber lived, and a few tense days later, Sajida al-Rishawi was caught.
Very little of that is why Sajida’s small, dark-eyed face and hunched shoulders have haunted my conscience for more than a decade.
I’ve talked about this moment in history before. It changed the tide of Jordanian public opinion against Al Qaeda, and the woman whose bomb didn’t go off haunted me for a decade.
This story is particularly dear to my heart, and I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that “Terrorist or Tragedy? My Struggle with the Tale of Sajida al-Rishawi” has been published at Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, the publication of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Read it in its entirety online.