While working with terrorists imprisoned in Iraq, Ami Angell said, she learned a lot about how a radical Muslim thinks.
“Terrorists aren’t born; they’re made,” she said. “It’s indoctrination.”
In most cases, she said, a lack of education and limited knowledge of the Quran allow them to be influenced by those who want to destroy America.
“They’re not prepared to question what they’re told,” she said in an interview Saturday.
Angell, a graduate of Newman University, has spent most of her adult life in war zones and political hot spots around the world. During her 44 months in Iraq, her focus was to give inmates the education they need to break away from terrorism.
Angell is in Wichita this weekend as part of the university’s Cardinal Newman Week, and she received the Spirit of Acuto Transformational Leadership Award on Saturday night. The award is given to a Newman graduate who uses his or her talent and training to move a vision to reality.
Angell, who grew up poor and went to high school in southern Oregon, came to Newman on a basketball scholarship and left in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. She later earned a master’s degree from the University of Essex in England and a Ph.D. in public international law from American University of London.
During her studies, she said, her research and curiosity took her to the Middle East’s West Bank. She left four years later knowing that her life would be dedicated to the field of human rights.
Angell most recently has been a research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, but will assume a new role in April when she goes to Afghanistan to work for the United States Agency for International Development.
Angell said the terrorists often shown on American television – radicals whose major aim is to kill Americans – don’t represent the majority of the people in the Arab world.
“The majority of the population doesn’t hate us,” she said. “For the majority of people I’ve encountered, their dream is to come to America.”