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Next-Gen Terror Watchers Go Deep Into Al-Qaida, Tweet a Lot

Most counterterrorism scholars will never meet Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, let alone pray with him. As a teenage extremist, Tawfik Hamid did.Back when Hamid was a youth in Cairo, studying at a medical school, his religious fervor compelled him to associate with terrorists. “One of the mosques at the school was reserved for Gemaa Islamiyah,” Hamid casually explains over a burger in Arlington, Virginia. Before Hamid decided that he’d prefer not to assassinate the police officer that Gemaa Islamiyah wanted him to kill, he shared mosque time on a few more occasions with the man who would succeed Osama bin Laden. Now senior U.S. generals refer to him as a “treasure.”

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