Author emphasizes fundamental difference between individuals who join terrorist groups, those who choose not to

Francisco Martin-Rayo travels to some of the most dangerous parts of the world to better understand the culture of terrorism in “Winning the Minds: Travels through the Terrorist Recruiting Grounds of Yemen, Pakistan and the Somali Border,” published by CITA Press

(PR NewsChannel) / September 18, 2012 / NEW YORK  

Winning the Minds

"Winning the Minds" by Francisco Martin-Rayo

In his book “Winning the Minds: Travels through the Terrorist Recruiting Grounds of Yemen, Pakistan and the Somali Border” (ISBN 0615653448), published by CITA Press, Francisco Martin-Rayo tells his story of a financial analyst who leaves behind the glamour of New York to study counter-terrorism at Harvard.

The journey begins after an inspiring discussion with a top intelligence official. What follows is a tale that will take readers to three of the most fertile camps in the world. Readers will receive a first-hand look into Dadaab, a refugee camp dominated by al-Shabaab, the most recent al-Qaeda franchisee, the camps around Peshawar, Pakistan, an active recruitment center for the Taliban, and Kharaz, an area in Southern Yemen located in the heart of al-Qaeda-run territory.

By treating his readers as co-travelers during this harrowing journey, Martin-Rayo unpacks the countries’ histories, conflicts, and U.S. policies there, all while detailing his own experiences. Among these, he describes being detained by Yemeni Intelligence, and he recalls a conversation with Pakistani government officials, discussing the beginning of the Taliban movement and how they funded it.

Martin-Rayo brings the humanistic aspect of these regions to life in “Winning the Minds” by including anecdotes to coincide with the serious underlying subject of the book. The lighthearted tone hopes to encourage anyone with an interest in counterterrorism, U.S. foreign policy, or who is just curious about these fascinating countries to pick up this story.

“When I first decided to go on this trip, I originally intended to write an academic paper about what differentiated children who became terrorists from those who didn’t,” says Martin-Rayo. “But the more children I met, the more a similar message kept popping up connecting a lack of access to a well-rounded education to terrorist involvement.”

Martin-Rayo feels that he has stumbled upon a revolutionary finding that completely contradicts the modern world’s view of extremism and takes it upon himself to inform the world of this drastic variance.

“Winning the Minds: Travels through the terrorist recruiting grounds of Yemen, Pakistan, and the Somali border” is available for sale online at and other channels.

About the Author: Francisco Martin-Rayo holds a BA in International Relations and a B.Sc. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.  He is an expert in counter-radicalization and public diplomacy programs and his work has been published by Foreign Policy magazine, The Guardian newspaper and Harvard University.   

Francisco Martin-Rayo
Phone:             (678) 457-9022



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