There was a time when Maajid Nawaz and T.J. Leyden would have never been in the same room, let alone share a stage and handshake.
Nawaz was a British leader of the Hizb ul-Tahrir, a radical Islamic organization that recently made headlines for its alleged infiltration of Pakistan’s army.
Leyden was an American neo-Nazi skinhead by the time he was 14 and member of a racist transnational gang.
Together, they kicked off an unusual conference Monday morning — the Google-sponsored “Summit Against Violent Extremism” — which aims to uncover the roots of radicalization.
Among the 250 guests in the eclectic crowd were former extremists, victims of terrorist attacks, academics, analysts and intelligence specialists.
Aicha el-Wafi, the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker” sat at a table near Carie Lemack, whose mother died on American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into New York’s World Trade Center.