This is a story about love love that lives and grows in the least likely places. It's a story about soul mates joined in the soulless business of terror.
Malika met Abdessattar at a tram stop in Brussels. She was fully veiled; he bore the deep marks of prostration before Allah, of ritually pounding his forehead into the ground. They grew passionate about each other, and about jihad. Two years later, Abdessattar would become a martyr. This past December, Malika would be arrested in a vast counterterrorism operation in Belgium, with authorities calling her "an al Qaeda living legend." Utter devotion led them there.
I first came into contact with Malika el Aroud four years ago when I obtained a rare copy of her self-published memoir, Soldiers of Light, while I was helping to research a book and CNN documentary on Osama bin Laden. I found her e-mail address, but it would take six months of phone calls before she would agree to meet with me for an interview.
WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY TODAY at 2:30pm, ET on CNN
READ LOVE IN THE TIME OF TERROR HERE