After 9/11, I realized that I knew nothing of the people who had attacked us, or the reasons why they had done it. I read up on al Qaeda, then on Islamic fundamentalism, then on Islam itself and the history of the region. Then I felt I understood what was behind the attack – but I still didn’t understand the people who had done it.

I live in Florida, and many of the events of the plot happened here. I read the coverage in the Florida papers, which was much more detailed than what I could find in the national press. (For example, the wind chime at the door of Ziad Jarrah’s house was mentioned in a local article.) It was that kind of detail which convinced me that there was a story here which could be thickly painted as any good novel should be.

I went to the places the hijackers had stayed in Florida. I couldn’t understand how anyone who had experienced America as they had could have hated us so much. By then I knew generally what motivated islamists – and it was a broad spectrum of motivations, not just religion. Putting that knowledge together with what I knew of the involved individuals, I was able to tell a story which included all those motivations by assigning each to a character who, in fact, mostly acted because of it. Only Marwan, the lead character, is more a product of my imagination that what I have read in the newspapers – and that’s because I gave him more complexity.

I thought – and I think – the book is important because it’s critical that people understand that the so-called “clash of civilizations” is not inevitable; that there are things that could have been done, and still could be done, to avoid the likelihood of more 9/11s. We must understand the enemy to protect ourselves, and that particularly includes understanding what drove them personally – their frustrations, their humiliations, their unmet needs, etc. Why were they so willing to kill themselves? Or were they really willing? Why did they turn to extreme religion? Et cetera. I think I have explained some of that.

Once I put together enough of the little details from press reports to get the flavor of the people and the events, I decided that non-fiction couldn’t possibly get deep enough into their heads. So much had to be deduced and imagined. That made the story perfect for fiction.

I was working on another book at the time (it will be coming out shortly), but I put it aside to write Marwan. My agent, John Ware, helped me with the editing – he’s brilliant at it. Then we submitted the book.

As I point out in my Author’s Note, New York publishing houses, in 2003 when the book was circulated, were still deep in grief. They considered it insulting and outrageous to present a book about 9/11 which was written (more or less) from the terrorists’ point of view – even though the book made no attempt to excuse their conduct, which I consider to be sociopathic. I could not sell the book.

In the meantime, no one has attempted what I did with Marwan. I still think it’s important that people understand what the 9/11 attack was really about. So I published it through AuthorHouse. I believe it’s a book that needs to be read. Fortunately, those people who have read it or reviewed have also said that it is a well-done piece of fiction – so there’s pleasure to be gleaned from the writing itself, although pleasure is not the point of reading this book.

Incidentally, before I put the book out in print, I podcasted it serially at and elsewhere on the web. The reaction to the podcast has been heartwarming. I hope I get the same warmth from the response to the print book.

Aram Schefrin is the author of the literary fiction novel, Marwan: The Autobiography of a 911 Terrorist.  You can visit his website at

Aram’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  If you would like to visit his official tour page, click here.

Leave a comment and at the end of his tour, you could be the lucky winner of a FREE  copy of his book!  All winners will be announced at on Feb. 29!

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3 thoughts on “MARWAN: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A 911 TERRORIST by Aram Schefrin

  1. Great story. I’m always curious to hear how a book came into being. This one sounds very interesting. I can’t wait to read it.

    Good luck wih the tour!


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