My Year Inside Radical Islam is a memoir of first a spiritual and then a political seduction. Raised in liberal Ashland, Oregon, by parents who were Jewish by birth but dismissive of strict dogma, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross converted to Islam in college-a process that began with a desire to connect with both a religious community and a spiritual practice, and eventually led him to sympathize with the most extreme interpretations of the faith with the most radical political implications.
In the year following graduation, Gartenstein-Ross went to work for the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a charity dedicated to fostering Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s austere form of Islam-a theological inspiration for many terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Shortly after he left Al Haramain-when his own fanaticism had waned-the foundation was charged by the U.S. government for a money-laundering scheme that was seemingly designed to finance terrorist organizations.
Gartenstein-Ross, by this time a lawyer at a prominent firm, volunteered for questioning by the FBI. They already knew who he was.
The story of how a good faith can be distorted and a decent soul can be seduced away from his principles, My Year Inside Radical Islam provides a rare glimpse into the personal interface between religion and politics.