Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus' Testimony So Powerful, 'The New York Times' Picked It Up
Mr. Mohammad flirted with extremism in his teens. His cousin took him to hear jihadist preachers as a 15-year-old, and he adhered to some of the most extreme interpretations of Islam, "even the ones you haven't heard of." But when war broke out in Syria, after the country's 2011 uprising, Mr. Mohammad initially joined the secular Kurdish forces in their fight for autonomy.
Mr. Mohammad's subsequent ideological journey rarely made complete sense. But by his account, he became traumatized by the deaths he witnessed on the front line, which in turn reenergized his interest in the extremist versions of Islam that he had learned about as a teenager.
"When I saw all these dead bodies," he said, "it made me believe all these things they said in the lectures. It made me seek the greatness of religion." Or, at least, his violent interpretations of that religion.
For Mr. Mohammad and Ms. Rashid (his wife), perhaps it was their dreams that sealed their conversion. As the couple began to consider leaving Islam, Ms. Rashid said she dreamed of a biblical figure who used heavenly powers to divide the waters of the sea, which Mr. Mohammad interpreted as a sign of encouragement from Jesus. Then, Mr. Mohammad himself dreamed Jesus had given him some chickpeas. The pair felt loved.