Abass Darab closes his eyes, unwraps the prayer beads from around his wrist and clutches them in his lap. A half-minute or so later, he opens his eyes. He is ready, he says, "to help people know what my school stands for."

Often, that means explaining what Zaytuna College, a liberal arts college founded by American Muslims, does not stand for.

Darab, 20, was 8 when terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center towers, a Pennsylvania field and the Pentagon, not far from Vienna, Va., where he grew up. Over the next decade, more acts of violence would be linked to Muslims, including a 2009 shooting rampage that killed 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and a failed bomb attempt in Times Square in 2010.

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