Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Understanding and Responding to the Threat of Terrorism

Understanding and Responding to the Threat of Terrorism

Tass Saada, author of The Mind of Terror, explains what motivates ISIS and other extremist groups to perform acts of terrorism, and offers suggestions for how Christians should respond.

Original Air Date: July 15, 2016


John Fuller: Radical terrorist attacks have occurred with frightening intensity. It seems that there are regular headlines about Turkey, Belgium, Baghdad and San Bernardino and Orlando. What can you do about these atrocities? And how can you respond? On today’s “Focus on the Family,” a former Muslim terrorist and sniper, who later converted to Christianity while in the U.S., shares his thoughts about what you need to know and what you can do. Our host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, this is a timely discussion we’re gonna have today and it’s on so many people’s minds when it comes to terrorism and what’s happening in the world. It weighs heavily on families around the world and I think we need to address it from that perspective. We’re gonna get some help today from a good friend, someone who’s been on the broadcast before, Tass Saada and he came from that environment. He was someone who was taken into the PLO and worked with the PLO, with Arafat’s army and he’s gonna bring quite a unique perspective, now that he’s a born-again believer and it will be fascinating for all of us.

As a teenager, as I said, he worked with Yasser Arafat’s militia. He also initiated violence on his own initiative because of the hate he had for Israel and for Christians. But to set it up today, I want you to hear what Tass shared with us last year here at Focus on the Family and what drove him to hate.


Mr. Tass Saada: We believed Christians were fight[ing] for Israel, ’cause they favored Israel against us, and even Christian Arabs. So, I was targeting Christian Arabs. When I wasn’t really doing operations against Israel in Amman, Jordan, I would go and look for Christians homes. And so, I used to just go looking for them, gun their houses down or shoot out their cars and throw a hand grenade into their homes.

End of Excerpt


Jim: You can hear the regret in his voice as he spoke about his former life as a terrorist many years ago. Tass Saada became a Christian more than 20 years ago and he has a brand-new book called The Mind of Terror and he also is the founder of two Christian ministries: Seeds of Hope, which is a humanitarian organization in the Middle East and Hope for Ishmael, which promotes reconciliation between Muslims, Jews and Christians. And Tass, let me welcome you back to “Focus on the Family.

Tass: Jim, it’s so good to be with you again.

Jim: When we reflect back on 9/11, I think everybody here in the United States particularly, the Western World moreover, I think we felt relatively safe and you know, we didn’t really understand necessarily what was going on, where some of that hatred might be coming from. It seemed to be geographically isolated to the Middle East region.

And now it’s broken over that container, and after 9/11, everyone is heightened. My boys, when we watch the news, they’ll ask me questions about the Muslims and radical Muslims. What’s the difference? I manage, or try to manage how to talk to them about it and what our role is as Christian[s]. But talk about just that heightened awareness. How do we begin to deal in our hearts with these differences?

Tass: Jim, you know, I call back the time of 9/11 that you brought up. I remember in those days when it happened, I was a believer, but I was so scared. The reaction of the Americans being so angry–

Jim: Uh-hm.

Tass: –rightfully so, that they were upset. I was upset that it happened, but also I was so scared [of] the reaction of the Americans, because I looked like a Middle Eastern[er], you know.

Jim: Sure.

Tass: And my kids, my daughter, my son, well, how are they gonna be treated? How are they gonna be accepted? It was a very, very dangerous time for us at that time.

Jim: Were you ever threatened? Did people say something to you?

Tass: Not really. I wasn’t threatened, but I can feel the resentment and—

Jim: Ah.

Tass: –the rejection, the people that don’t know me, of course–

Jim: Sure.

Tass: –I can tell in their faces. I can tell. I mean, the FBI came (Chuckling) running all over my area, looking and to make sure that I am not (a terrorist), because I shared that my family [had] partnered with Mohammed Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden’s father.

Jim: Ah.

Tass: And some of my neighbors called the FBI at that time on this, and they, the FBI came running all over this place. And so, it was a tough time, and I can understand their resentment and the anger of the Americans at the time, and the time now that we are living today.

Jim: Yeah.

Tass: The sad part that I see from that time to this time, that from September 11th, it seems to me like the church is sleeping again, or have been sleeping.

Jim: Hm, let me ask you this. Help us understand, because you know, in the West, we have such an attitude of “live and let live,” just especially out here in the Western part of the United States. You know, this is the old John Wayne country.

Tass: Hm.

Jim: So it’s just, you know, you do your thing and I’ll do my thing. I don’t think a lot of Christians in this country particularly, maybe in the West in general, truly understand why do they want to kill us? Why do they have so much animosity? What’s driving it really?

Tass: Hatred, anger. I take it from my side, you know, and my days. My hatred for the Jews, for example, was driven by the fact that I was a refugee. I was an immigrant and I wanted a home. But as I grew up, you know. When I came to the States, I didn’t know why I was so drawn to come to America. I hated America and Americans just as much as I hated the Jews at that time, but I was so drawn to come to America. Why didn’t I go to Europe, for example, where I know we were more accepted?But no, America was the one, the draw, because America is the one that God wanted me to come to–

Jim: Well, it changed your life.

Tass: –is the bottom line.

Jim: Yeah.

Tass: Yes.

Jim: It changed your life entirely.

Tass: It changed the life, exactly.

Jim: Let me put the shoe on the other foot. When you talk about the misunderstandings that Muslims have about Christians or Western culture, now that you’ve lived with your foot in each camp, so to speak, why do you think Muslims may not understand us?

Tass: Well, some of the reasons for this terrorism that we are talking about, and I mention in my book six points. I don’t think we’re gonna discuss all of them, but I’m gonna touch on the most important ones.

Jim: Sure.

Tass: Okay, one of the most important one that creates terrorism is the anger and frustration and revenge. We’re talking about in Israel, for example. There is always a revenge element that takes place in the stabbing thing that we see in Israel at this point of time, a stabbing and attacking of children, young children even, because somebody in the family [has] been attacked or have been hurt by the Israelis and they’re taking their revenge.

Another reason is also their religion and this is one of the biggest ones really, is the religion. And so, if we look back at Islam itself, anybody that says Islam is a religion of peace, is the biggest liar.

Tass:It’s hard for me to say that. I don’t say this with any kind of joy, but it is true. It is true. Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a violent religion.Muslims, look, you know, especially the devout Muslims, they look at the West as, like my father told me one time, you know, America is the country of Satan, the big Satan country basically—

Jim: Right.

Tass: -[is] what exactly he said, because of what we see in the West. You know, when they look at Madonna, for example, wearing a big cross and dancing half naked.

Jim: And when you put it in that context, I guess the problem is, there seems to be really no political solution. It’s gotta be a spiritual solution and where do you see this going over time? Is this part of what Revelation is talking about? Is this part of the end times? Or is this a moment in our history where Muslims are gonna have to figure out who they are long term? Is it like a reformation moment for them? Or what do you see, knowing Islam the way you do, knowing Christianity and the West as you do, where does this all go?

Tass: You know, Jim, as I grow in Christianity and as I read more and understand more of the Bible, you know, I live by the Bible. I don’t really take too much of others’ writings and stuff. But the Scripture shows me that what we are seeing today is really part of the end of time. Is it a surprise to God? No, of course not. God is allowing some of the things that [are] happening today that we are seeing, in order to wake up the followers of Jesus, to begin to really take their rightful position. Jesus said, “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”

You know, when I got saved and I was told my mentor to start reading by the book of Matthew, start with the book of Matthew, when I got to reading to Matthew 5:43 and 44, where the Word of God says, “[You have heard it said] love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your neighbors and pray for those who persecute you.” Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: It shocked me and I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I jumped out of my seat and I screamed so loud saying, “No way! Lord, I will never love them.”

Jim: Right.

Tass: I know what He was saying to me. Love the Jews. I was giving all the excuses for the Lord, why I will not love them. They took my house. They killed my people. They’re still persecuting us. And after I got tired talking, the Lord started speaking to me in my ear saying, “They have done more than that to Me, but I still love them.”

Jim: Hm.

Tass: And that just broke me, just broke me down to my knees, crying to God, ’cause I remember that still was fresh, His love for me, for me, a bloodthirst[y] person that I was, that He still loved me and loved them. I thought I will love them, Lord. I will love them. And I began to really pour my heart into the Scripture to understand how I can love them–

John: Well, what a heart transformation in our guest, Tass Saada, on today’s “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly. And you can read more of his heart and his desire to reach out with God’s love in the book, The Mind of Terror or get the CD or download of this broadcast. It’s all available at

Jim: Tass, just for those that are coming in, may not have heard the top of our program, you fought for Arafat. You experienced brutality in that PLO-Israeli conflict. When you look forward and we were talking Islam and the radicalization of Islam or the application of original text out of the Koran, the moderates, you know, we hear in the media about the moderates. If only the moderates would rise up in Islam and … and that should be a larger number than those who are radicalized, is that something that you could see that would happen? Or would they be seen as apostate, because they’re not living to the text?

Tass: The modern Muslims, if they are practicing their religion of Islam, there is no such a thing as called “moderate Muslim.” There is no such a thing. But here is what I want to say. I want to call on the Muslims today. I want to call them. I want to call them up to wake up, to stand up against the tyranny. If you are a Muslim and you know somebody is about to do something evil, wake up and stand up and speak against it.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Tass: I am calling you to come to know Jesus, of course. But I also want to call you to stand up against this. We have come to this country, Jim, to have a better life, to give our families, our children a better life. We did not come to this nation to bring evil. We left that evil behind, and we should leave it behind.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: I want to call on the Muslims who really have any sense right now to stand up against that evil and call it evil.

Jim: Exactly right. So truth seekers, I think, are what we need in all areas. Who are those people that are gonna seek truth and know the truth? And ultimately, I think all those trails of truth line up to Jesus, as you’ve experienced—

Tass: Yes.

Jim: –as I’ve experienced and that is the core direction that hopefully, more people will go. Whether that happens or not, I guess we’re going to see. You’ve had a Muslim friend who thought you might be in danger because of your work in the Middle East, helping children and helping teens through your ministry. And in fact, he came to you and offered you an assault rifle so you could protect yourself. Tell us more about that exchange and what was he afraid of for you? And how did you respond to him?

Tass: Well, he was worried for me because I was open about my faith.

Jim: As a Christian—

Tass: And—

Jim: –yeah.

Tass: –as a Christian, yes. And so, he was trying to help me to protect myself and my wife. And he came to me and he felt something is cooking. He felt something is happening.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: And that’s why he came to me and he opened up the trunk of his car and he had a[n] AK47 and he said, “This is for you to protect yourself and protect your wife.” I looked at him, and I smiled and I said, “Thank you, my friend. Thank you very much for your concern, but I don’t use that anymore. That is not my weapon.” I said, “You want to know my AK47?” He said, “Yes.” I had my Bible with me at that moment actually and I raised up my Bible and I said, “This is my AK47.”

Jim: (Laughing) Oh, man, spiritual battle.

Tass: Oh, my, ah. He looked at me and [at] that time he thought I was really crazy.

Jim: (Laughing) I can imagine.

Tass: But he never forgot that.

Jim: Yeah.

Tass: He never forgot that and he reminded me of that about 12 years later. He gave his heart to Jesus because he realized that’s the way.

Jim: Yeah.

Tass: That’s the way.

Jim: You know, Romans 2:4, it says that, “Don’t you know, it’s God’s kindness that leads one to repentance?” such a powerful statement, because I’ve never met anybody that’s ever been beaten in or verbally or emotionally harassed into the kingdom of God. You know, nobody says, “Oh, those Christians treated me so poorly, I accepted their God. And so, when you talk about how you came to Christ, coming to the United States, being loved really by those you came into contact with. I remember there was the man at the restaurant–

Tass: Praise God.

Jim: –who befriended you and talked—

Tass: Yes.

Jim: –with you, and you know, really talked to you about who Jesus was and is. And that changed your heart.

Tass: Yes. One of the Scriptures that struck me also in my heart is Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” You know, in my life in Jericho, also, when I first got to Jericho, I was persecuted by the Muslims. And the head of the largest mosque was preaching against me every Friday.

Jim: Wow.

Tass: For three years I did nothing but to love them and show them love and acceptance. Until three years later the grand opening, I invited that head of the mosque to the grand opening and presented him with 25 wheelchairs as a gift for his humanitarian aid organization that dealt with handicaps and we were giving away wheelchairs. He was receiving those wheelchairs with tears.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: He was with tears. He said, “I’ve spoken against you for so long and you’re still giving me gifts.” I said, “What you said against me, Imam, is your opinion and your thoughts. I do what God tells me to do, and God told me to give you these wheelchairs.” And he was just in tears.

Jim: Wow.

Tass: He was just in tears. He is now my best friend. Anybody speaks against me or my organization, Seeds of Hope there, he will preach against them from the pulpit of the mosque. That’s the love that Jesus is talking about.

You know, one of the areas that concerns me also with what’s going on right now, from what I hear from people, their response, their reactions for what is going on, I see from Christians, followers of Jesus, believers, showing so much fear—fear of terrorism coming into America. Why? They are afraid of those Muslims living in their neighborhoods. Why? Where is that fear from? Is that from God? God doesn’t give us fear.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: God gives us peace, love, joy.

Jim: And at the same time, Tass, the difficulty is, it’s natural again, to fear for one’s life. But you know, what you’re saying there is, Jesus is always saying to us, be ready to lay your life down. I mean—

Tass: Yes.

Jim: –it’s such a contradiction and yet, you know what? We’re either gonna die through a car accident, a heart attack, we’re gonna end our life and the point of it is, trust God.

Tass: We know where we are going.

Jim: Yeah, we know where we’re goin’, so I mean, that’s the beauty of it, and I think that’s why God says, don’t be fearful. Fear not, for I have overcome the world. And—

Tass: Exactly.

Jim: –again, what is it sitting across a table, you and I having coffee, even though we’re on the phone together right now, but what would you say to me, just as an American Christian, if you were to encourage me in how to address the Muslim issue and the radical Muslim issue? What are—

Tass: Yeah.

Jim: –two or three things you would want me to walk away from that conversation with?

Tass: I want you to love them, to have a genuine love towards them. If you are approaching Muslims, don’t have any agendas.

Jim: Hm.

Tass: To listen, to listen when you are talking with them. Listen. Invite them. Talk about your faith. It is powerful for us, because Muslims understand your faith.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Tass: And when you talk about your faith with joy, that’s provoking jealousy–

Jim: Hm.

Tass: –when you have joy in your heart, when you talk about your God.

Jim: Because they don’t?

Tass: Because they fear God. They fear their Allah. They don’t have that joy that we have.

Jim: Ah.

Tass: They don’t have that love that we have. And when we show them that love in our heart, in our attitude, in our outreach to them in loving, without hidden agendas, and build relationship, that is very important. And some of the churches that I went to, spoke to, they acted on it. And so many of them, Muslims have come to the church to see why do these Americans love us? Why [do] these Christians love us?

Jim: Yeah.

Tass: And that’s when we tell them why.

Jim: Tass, I so appreciate again, the witness and the testimony the Lord Jesus has given you. Thank you for your heart being—

Tass: Thank you—

Jim: receptive—

Tass: Jim.

Jim: –20 years ago to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. What a unique position you have today. But Tass, before we sign off, let me give you a difficult task, I believe and that is to pray for the Muslims and the Christians in those moments where the two meet, and just pray for us generally to have—

Tass: Hallelujah.

Jim: –the heart of God. Can you do that for us?

Tass: Oh, yes. Lord, thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord. What an awesome God, Lord. When I think about my own salvation and how You reach[ed] out to me, how You reach[ed] me. I was not looking for You, but Your grace found me, Lord, and I’m so grateful with all the blood that I had in my hand—Arabs, Jews and Christians. But yet, You have reached me. Lord, there is nothing impossible for You.

And Lord, I want to lift up our Muslim brothers and sisters if they are listening today, that they will take to their heart. Lord, I know they are questioning their own faith at this point of time, Lord. They are questioning whether this Allah is the true God or not.

And Lord, I pray that Your followers will be out in numbers, big numbers to reach out to them, to help them understand that this Allah is not the true God. I lift up my brothers and sisters, the Christians, the followers of Jesus, Lord, that You will pour Your heart on them to encourage them, to empower them to be a light, to be a light wherever they are, whatever they do. That’s, Lord, what we need to be a light to the nations. In Your name we pray, Lord. Hallelujah—

Jim: Amen.

Tass: –amen, amen.

Jim: Tass Saada, author of the book, The Mind of Terror, Tass, as always, so good to be with you. God bless you while you’re there in—

Tass: So glad to be you, Jim.

Jim: –Washington, D.C. May God’s peace go with you and I know that His favor is upon you wherever you go, so thank you so much again—

Tass: Praise the Lord.

Jim: –for being with us. Bye now.

Tass: Thanks, Jim. Thank you. God bless. Bye-bye.


John: Well, you know, we’re so passionate here about sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in the world. And Tass Saada has certainly punctuated that desire we have for you to feel more encouraged in your faith.

And you know, 250,000 people came to Christ just through the ministry here of Focus on the Family this past year. You are a vital part of making that happen when you support the work of Focus. And I’d ask that you’d pray with us and support us as you can financially. When you make a generous donation today of any amount, ask for your copy of Tass’s book, The Mind of Terror and we’ll send that to you as our way of saying thank you for being part of the support team here. And because of some generous friends, when you give today, your gift is going to be doubled. They’ve offered a matching grant opportunity and so, please don’t delay. Make the phone call or go online right now. The number is 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or

And when you get in touch, be sure to ask for the CD or download of this interview. It’ll have lots of extra content and discussion. Again, the number, 800-A-FAMILY or online at

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I’m John Fuller, thanking you for listening and inviting you back on Monday, when we’ll hear from Jen Hatmaker about letting go of perfection in the Christian life.


Mrs. Jen Hatmaker: There’s this sort of sense of crushing pressure to just be an outstanding wife, a fantastic mother, have this vibrant and meaningful career, keep a beautiful home, be a good neighbor, be a good volunteer. And we’ve sort of slowly but surely built up this idea of a woman that doesn’t exist.

End of Excerpt

John: More about accepting God’s grace for where you’re at in life, that’s on Monday on “Focus on the Family,” as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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The Mind of Terror

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