Our Story

How it all started...

The founder and director of Hope for Ishmael, Taysir (“Tass”) Abu Saada was born in Gaza and reared in Saudi Arabia and Qatar before running away from home at the age of 17 to join Fatah in the late 1960’s, becoming a PLO sniper for Yasser Arafat. In 1974, still a young man, he moved to the United States at Yasser Arafat’s urging, to study at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He met and married an American girl, Karen (pictured above), in Kansas City, Missouri, and became a successful restauranteur. In 1993, Tass experienced a powerful conversion to Christianity, and now has a love for the Jewish people he had hated so strongly in his youth.

He left the business world and with his wife, Karen, founded Seeds of Hope, a humanitarian organization that operates in Jericho and Jerusalem. He has now turned that over to the next generation of leadership that Tass trained up for the purpose. Tass and Karen also founded Hope for Ishmael, a Christian ministry which seeks to advance Israeli-Palestinian understanding and dialogue as well as to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Christ. Tass serves as Chairman and CEO of Hope for Ishmael.

Tass is the author of two books, Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life, and The Mind of Terror: A Former Muslim Sniper Explores What Motivates ISIS and Other Extremist Groups (and how best to respond).

Tass is a seasoned public speaker, having appeared many times on radio and television including multiple appearances on CBN (see, for example, “Former Palestinian Terrorist Embraces Jesus and Jews – Tass Saada“ and “Going Inside ‘The Mind of Terror’“), on Focus on the Family radio, Israeli talk shows, and in many other venues (The Amazing Transformation of a Palestinian Fighter – Tass Saada on The Mimi Geerges Show). He speaks both domestically and abroad such as in churches with Sunday attendance as high as 50,000 and at both domestic and international conferences with as many as 30,000 attendees. Tass has also been profiled in major media around the world, including this one in the Jerusalem Post.