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Film-maker defends use of footage shot by al-Qaida terrorists

Monday - 02/07/2018 09:02
Path of Blood uses raw extracts from 500 hours of video seized at jihadist training camp
Path of Blood includes the brutal interrogation of an American hostage. Photograph: pathofbloodfilm
Path of Blood includes the brutal interrogation of an American hostage. Photograph: pathofbloodfilm

A Bafta-winning film-maker has defended his decision to make a documentary using video footage taken by jihadist terrorists, saying the work humanises but does not glamorise.

Path of Blood, which opens in cinemas next week, has no narrator or interviewees and relies solely on the raw footage filmed by the terrorists themselves as they plot to detonate car bombs in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“People say ‘don’t give terrorists air time’, but what they should say is ‘understand these people’. Only by understanding the nature of their faith, the nature of their psychology will you be able to combat them,” said Jonathan Hacker.

Hacker, who directed the 2006 documentary Britain’s First Suicide Bombers, spent more than a year piecing the film together after gaining access to 500 hours of al-Qaida videos, seized by Saudi military forces at a jihadist training camp in the desert.

“It was a mammoth, mammoth task,” Hacker said. “The translating alone took five months because there was so much jargon, slang and thick accents.”

Before being allowed access to the footage, Hacker said, he had to convince Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry that he could be trusted with the material. The ministry knew he planned to make a film, he said, but its concerns were about whether it could compromise security.

Shot with jerky handheld cameras, the videos capture a band of terrorists as they prepare to launch suicide attacks at residential compounds, security bases and oil refineries in and around Riyadh.

“You see that these terrorists are incredibly young, incredibly naive, many of them incredibly stupid, but all of them still capable of great evil,” said Hacker.

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