She was a single mom; he was divorced and searching. Together they kindled an epic passion for each other — and jihad.
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
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READ LOVE IN THE TIME OF TERROR HERE