Book Review: Once An Arafat Man by Tass Saada & Dean Merrill

Ben Saada is a worship leader and blogger friend in the Kansas City area who introduced me to the story of his dad a couple years ago, so when he mentioned that his dad wrote a new book I jumped at a chance to read this story. Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life by Tass Saada and Dean Merrill.
Taas Saada is an Arab who was a sniper in the Fatah and chauffeur and friend to Arafat, the PLO leader.  Mr. Saada’s family was torn from Palestine as a child and returned to fight as a young man.  His story of reconciliation is a testimony of the reality of how Jesus changes lives.  He and his wife are now committed to reconciling Arabs and Jews and helping the needy Palestinian people with the organization he founded  called Hope for Ishmael.

I found reading the story disturbing, compelling, revealing, challenging and inspiring.  The life this man has already lived makes this book a must read. In an era when division politically, racially and culturally are at a peak, Tass Saada’s book offers both inspiration and practical solutions.

From Chapter One:  A Sniper for Arafat

The morning sun felt warm on my back as I crouched behind a large pile of shrubbery I had scraped together, overlooking the Jordan River valley.  Jerico, perhaps the world’s oldest city, lay across the river in the distance.  Here on the east side, my comrades and I had spent the night in a chill cave along this range of hills.  Now we were up early and excited about the surprise we would deliver to the advancing IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops. My sleek, high-pwered Simonov rifle with its telescopic sight lay beside me on the ground as I gazed down uypon the quiet village of al-Karameh…

The village was eerily silent. No donkeys brayed in thei pens; not an infant whimpered for its mother. Nobody could see our sevon thousand or so Fatah fighters hidden behind stone walls or under tarpaulind, amid date trees and olive groves–a reception committee waiting to roll out a blood red carpet for the invaders.

A trained sniper at seventeen years old, I stood ready to do my job, waiting up on the hill for the opportune moment…

Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.


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