- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

He has been called a “modern-day Nostradamus” for his novels, which seem to be ripped from the headlines — next year’s headlines.

In January 2001, Joel C. Rosenberg began writing “The Last Jihad,” a fictional account of a war with Iraq that followed a terrorist jet hijacking attack on America.

His second novel, “The Last Days,” began with the death of Yasser Arafat and was published 13 months before the Palestinian leader died.

Both were best-sellers, and there is talk of movie deals. That’s not bad for a nice Jewish-Christian boy from Syracuse, N.Y., whose previous credits involved reporting for Rush Limbaugh’s newsletter.

Now Mr. Rosenberg is back with a third novel, “The Ezekiel Option,” which begins with a passenger jet hijacked by terrorists crashing into Lafayette Park dangerously close to its intended target, the White House. It continues into a plot focused on the potential for nuclear terrorism.

If the Fairfax resident’s past novels have been prophetic, there might a reason: Mr. Rosenberg says his writing career was inspired by his interest in Bible prophecy.

The basic plot for “The Ezekiel Option,” he says, is a 2,500-year-old prophecy derived from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It involves the emergence of an alliance of Russia and Iran against Israel.

Over lunch at the Hay-Adams Hotel, near the spot where the hijacked Aeroflot jetliner is downed in his new novel, Mr. Rosenberg prophesies a long struggle between the West and radical Islamists.

“Tragically, the war on terror is the father of many sequels,” says Mr. Rosenberg, 38. “The war on radical Islam is far from over. Could an Aeroflot jet be hijacked and aimed at Washington? Absolutely. Are we better prepared? Yes.”

He added, “Terror, by definition, strikes when you least expect it; otherwise, it’s an insert on page A18” of the daily paper.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had to shoot a jet out of the sky, but we were within 18 seconds of shooting down that Cessna,” Mr. Rosenberg said, referring to the May 11 incident in which an errant private plane triggered an emergency evacuation of the Capitol and the White House.

Melding current affairs with Bible prophecy, Mr. Rosenberg’s novels stick to an evangelical Christian perspective as opposed to the fanciful speculations of Dan Brown’s megahit, “The Da Vinci Code.”

But just as “Da Vinci” proved there is a good market for theologically themed fiction with solid action, Mr. Rosenberg’s books have carved their own niche, racking up a total of 17 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

Married and the father of four sons, Mr. Rosenberg previously worked with publisher and Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and has advised Natan Sharansky, a former deputy prime minister of Israel, as well as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Some commentators have described terrorists as “disenfranchised and voiceless,” but Mr. Rosenberg doesn’t buy that explanation.

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