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24 Jul 2024

A Veteran’s Return from the Brink of Terrorism

A Veteran’s Return from the Brink of Terrorism

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A Veteran’s Return from the Brink of Terrorism

Stranger at the Gate is a thirty-minute documentary that will change your life. 

Created by Joshua Seftel for the New Yorker, it follows a former Marine with P.T.S.D. who planned to bomb his local Islamic Centre in Muncie, Indiana.

In an unexpected turn of fate, he found Islam from the people he wanted to kill.

Richard’s story

Richard ‘Mac’ McKinney joined the Marines when he was eighteen to escape his drug addiction and gain respect.

He served for 25 years and revealed that it radically changed him.

In the documentary, he reveals that he was told despicable things by his higher-ups such as;

On the range, they’re nothing more than a paper target. As long as you look at them as anything other than human, you won’t have a problem.’

He developed a deep-seated hatred towards Muslims during the time he served, and this hatred brewed within him as he returned to Muncie and saw Muslims settling in his hometown.

This hatred drove him to hatch a plan to bomb the Islamic Centre in Muncie.

He visited the Mosque in 2009 in a final bid to see the regressive ways of Islam for himself before he went through with his plan; however, he was met with surprise.

He was welcomed into the Mosque, hugged and treated with respect – something he did not factor for.

His curiosity led him to continue visiting the Mosque, and with each visit, his hatred was reduced and understanding was built.

Seemingly impossible bridges were built between Mac and the Muslim community.

He eventually accepted Islam, and with it came companionship, brotherhood and love.

The very people he intended to kill, saved his life.


It sounds like something out of a movie, almost too good to be true. However, it is true.

It is a moving, real-life story depicting the importance of humanity, kindness, and community.

It also highlights the impact that one person can carry. If it wasn’t for those first few acts of kindness Mac saw in the Mosque, it could easily be a different story.

Your actions may not seem like they have consequences, but the way we treat people is essential.

Kindness and treating people with compassion and mercy are highlighted several times in the Quran.

‘ The servants of the Kind walk softly on the Earth, and when ignorant people speak with them, they say words of peace.’
[25:63]
‘Worship Allah and don’t associate anything with Him; be kind to parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to those neighbours you know well and those you don’t, to travellers and to the slaves you own. Allah dislikes the arrogant and the boastful.’
[4:36]

Whilst you may feel like those who disagree or oppose you are worthy of hatred and ignorance, we must remember that this is our ego talking.

Oftentimes, those who display ignorance are in the biggest need of receiving kindness. It is up to us to be ambassadors of Islam and show the lengths of our patience, mercy and kindness.

Richard’s story is incredibly inspiring. If you’re interested in watching the full 30-minute documentary, you can do so here.

The documentary has now been nominated for an Oscar in the category, ‘Best Documentary Short.’

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