Al-Qaeda is considered as one of the notorious and well-known violent extremists ever existed. It came to spotlight when they conducted a series of bombing attacking civilians and American citizens, to prove their worth and their ideology to the world. Unbeknownst to them, one of their former members broke to their rank and turned back against them. This is the story of a man who defied all odds, just to make the world safe, and made a decision based on his moral obligation as a Muslim. His name is Aimen Dean, a former Al-Qaeda student, and operative.

Aimen Dean was born in Saudi Arabia. While growing, he was inspired by the book In the Shade of the Koran, a writing of Sayyid Qutb, who is considered as a “Father of Salafi Jihadism”. He is also knowledgeable in Islamic Studies, Quran on being Hafiz (the one who memorized Quran), and other Islamic-related subjects. His knowledge increased when he became student of Yusef al-Ayeri (considered as first-ever leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia) in Islamic Awareness circle.

At young age, he left Saudi Arabia and went to Bosnia to join the war, where he became a mujahideen. He also made his way to Afghanistan and the Philippines. After his Bosnian journey, he was invited in Afghanistan in 1997 to swear an oath of allegiance personally to Osama Bin Laden. During his time in Al-Qaeda, he trained recruits in Islamic theology, religious practices, and history. His extensive knowledge in Islam and capability in public speaking made his way to preach also in camps, recruit, and fundraise to various countries.

When the US Embassy Bombings in East Africa occurred in 1998, Dean became worried and questioned the motives of his group who was responsible for the attack. This is the time that he started breakingaway from the group, learning that their motives were not the real meaning and intensions of Islam.

After this event, he left the group and was arrested by the authority. This is the opportunity where he cooperated with the government to work against his former group which is Al-Qaeda.

By his cooperation and work, although it is considered as dangerous and life-threatening, he saved a lot of lives by preventing terror-related incident which was his old way. By the time of his work with the government, he was considered an asset who can prevent terrorism.

It is hard to imagine that a former terrorist will turn his back against his old habits and his former group. According to the interview conducted by Channel 4 News, when he asked if he has regret that he betrayed his former friends (Al-Qaeda), Aimen Dean answered according to Hadith 8054 of Imam Ali, “Loyalty to the treacherous is treachery in the eyes of God. Betrayal of the treacherous is true loyalty in the eyes of God.”

The story of Aimen Dean serves as an inspiration to others, especially to Muslims, that it is not too late to change for good and help humanity by following and doing the right thing (promoting peace) according to the real meaning of Islam.