After receiving his his B.A. from Stanford University, Cohen earned his M.Phil in International Relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. In September 2006, this author was named the youngest member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning staff. His latest book, Children of Jihad, has been endorsed by everyone from Tom Brokaw to Chris Matthews.
WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH THROUGH CHILDREN OF JIHAD?
Right now, if one watches the television or reads the newspaper it looks as if there is little hope for the Middle East. While the region is extremely turbulent and plagued with a diverse set of challenges, I wanted to show my readers there is a window of hope—the youth, who are 60 percent of the Middle East’s population.
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE POLITICAL SITUATION?
That the youth are the majority of every single country, yet they are the demographic that is the least understood and the most neglected. If you look at a part of the world like the Middle East, the largest opposition group in every country, the largest conglomeration that can bring about reform and progress, is this youth majority.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I paint, draw, and sculpt although I don’t have nearly enough time to do it. I am a big non-fiction reader so I am always looking for new books about the Middle East, the state of the world, and Islam.
WHAT SURPRISES YOU MOST ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE?
How quickly time disappears.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I really enjoy going out. I am a sucker for a good nightclub and a late night.
WHAT DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE MOST?
As somebody who focuses his professional life on combating terrorism and violent extremism, I am constantly worried about what I see as growing terrorist threats. I am particularly worried about what I see in Europe with a growing number of educated middle class Diaspora communities becoming radicalized.
Photography Jonah Koch