Mohamed Ghorab had no hint one late spring morning that when he dropped his daughter off at school, his life would change forever. Federal agents and police surrounded him in front of terrified parents, teachers and school children. They hustled him off to jail and eventually deported him. His wife was detained at the same time. Agents raided the obscure Philadelphia mosque where Ghorab was imam, ransacking its simple interior and his house next door.
This was a fearful time in the life of America following 9/11, as prize-winning reporter Stephan Salisbury well knew. But he did not anticipate the extremity of fear that emerged as he explored the aftermath of that virtually forgotten raid. Over time, the members of the mosque and the imam’s family opened up to him, giving Salisbury a unique opportunity to chronicle the demolition of lives and families, the spread of anti-immigrant hysteria and its manipulation by the government.
As he explored these events, Salisbury was constantly reminded of similar incidents in his own past—the paranoia and police activity that surrounded his political involvement in the 1960s and the surveillance and informing that dogged his father, Harrison Salisbury, a well-known New York Times reporter and editor, for half a century. Salisbury weaves these strands together into a personal portrait of an America fracturing under the intense pressure of the war on terror—the homeland in the time of Osama.