The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Mem­oir of Com­ing to America

Mohammed Al Samawi

December 18, 2018

Born in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, to a pair of mid­dle-class doc­tors, Mohammed Al Samawi was a devout Mus­lim raised to think of Chris­tians and Jews as his ene­my. But when Mohammed was twen­ty-three, he secret­ly received a copy of the Bible, and what he read cast doubt on every­thing he’d pre­vi­ous­ly believed. After con­nect­ing with Jews and Chris­tians on social media, and at var­i­ous inter­na­tion­al inter­faith con­fer­ences, Mohammed became an activist, mak­ing it his mis­sion to pro­mote dia­logue and coop­er­a­tion in Yemen.

Then came the death threats: first on Face­book, then through ter­ri­fy­ing anony­mous phone calls. To pro­tect him­self and his fam­i­ly, Mohammed fled to the south­ern port city of Aden. He had no way of know­ing that Aden was about to become the heart of a north-south civ­il war, and the bat­tle­ground for a well-fund­ed proxy war between Iran and Sau­di Ara­bia. As gun­fire and grenades explod­ed through­out the city, Mohammed hid in the bath­room of his apart­ment and des­per­ate­ly appealed to his con­tacts on Facebook.

Mirac­u­lous­ly, a hand­ful of peo­ple he bare­ly knew respond­ed. Over thir­teen days, four ordi­nary young peo­ple with zero expe­ri­ence in diplo­ma­cy or mil­i­tary exfil­tra­tion worked across six tech­nol­o­gy plat­forms and ten time zones to save this inno­cent young man trapped between dead­ly forces— rebel fight­ers from the north and Al Qae­da oper­a­tives from the south.

The sto­ry of an improb­a­ble escape as riv­et­ing as the best page-turn­ing thrillers, The Fox Hunt reminds us that good­ness and decen­cy can tri­umph in the dark­est circumstances.

    Discussion Questions

    The Fox Hunt is the extra­or­di­nary sto­ry of Mohammed Al Samawi. Mohammed Al Samawi was raised in Yemen by a lov­ing and tra­di­tion­al Mus­lim fam­i­ly in a homo­ge­neous soci­ety where he was edu­cat­ed to hate and mis­trust those who do not believe in or prac­tice Islam. He had nev­er met a Jew and believed that they were the ene­my of Islam. Every­thing changed when he befriend­ed a teacher who intro­duced him to the Bible. He read the Bible in secret and dis­cov­ered that Islam, Chris­tian­i­ty, and Judaism have much more in com­mon than he had been taught to believe. He began befriend­ing peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths on Face­book, and end­ed up doing inter­faith work around the world, unbe­knownst to his com­mu­ni­ty and family.

    As Yemen devolves into vio­lence and civ­il war and his activism put him in in — creas­ing dan­ger, Mohammed tells the thrilling and har­row­ing account of how a net­work of devot­ed Jews, Mus­lims, Chris­tians, and strangers around the world end up res­cu­ing him from Yemen. It is a true sto­ry of extra­or­di­nary trans­for­ma­tion, con­nec­tion, and how the world can change when a few peo­ple decide that they are going to save someone’s life.