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The Cult of the Suicide Bomber back to product details

Good insights, so-so production
written by user99 August 26, 2006 - 10:00 AM PDT
Very insightful analysis of suicide bombings from an expert on the region. However, the unpolished interview and narration, and at times clumsy handling of the production detracted from it.

OK, then--let's call them Suicide Martyrs!
written by talltale July 9, 2006 - 8:20 PM PDT
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Extremely disturbing (sometimes for good reason, often for reasons that are suspect), THE CULT OF THE SUICIDE BOMBER is credited as co-written by and starring Robert Baer, the ex-CIA agent whose character provided the basis for George Clooney role in "Syriana." (Kevin Toolis is the other co-writer, as well as co-director with David Batty.) Together, these three give us one strange documentary. Three, four or more times along the way, Baer informs us somewhat breathlessly that he is talking to a person who has never up till now given an interview or spoken about a particular topic. (Really? Then why are these ever-so-private people telling-all just now, and to THIS guy of all people!?) Baer also appears to have been given carte blanche to film in the midst of religious meetings and hugely anti-American gatherings. How did this come about? Do these Islamic fundamentalists even know who Baer is? It's all a bit mystifying.

Over and over we hear Iranians, Lebanese and Palestinians talk about the necessity of their "martyrs" (the suicide bombers of the title). The dead are martyrs to their relatives and to their country, but they remain suicides bombers to Mr. Baer--and yet, when speaking with the relatives or any Islamic officials, I believe Baer refers to the dead as martyrs, too--then turns around and calls them suicide bombers again for our benefit. Well, he was a CIA spy, for goodness sake, so of course he spent his career lying for a purpose. It is difficult, during and after viewing this film, not to feel that Islam in general and these bombers in particular are an enormous threat to the western world--despite watching an interview with an Muslim theorist who claims that real Islam is no threat, while the fundamentalist version indeed is. (Can we have a show of hands, worldwide please, from those Muslims who believe in the humanitarian version?)

Baer also attempts to present both sides of the Palestine/Israel issue, but again, via his interviews, he weighs things heavily in Israel's favor. Worse, in every case from Iran's Khomeni to Lebanon and the Palestine question, he refuses to address the issues that caused the anti-American or anti-Jewish sentiments in the first place (the Shaw in Iran, the Palestinian's desire for land they claim is theirs). However you may feel about these issues, a bit of history might be helpful. Lastly, as an interviewer Baer comes--maybe--up to the ankles of Larry King and Barbara Walters (and I do not mean this comparison as a compliment to any of the three). His questions ("How did you feel when you were pressed up against the bomber?!") are often shockingly obvious and silly. Still, the history he gives us of suicide bombers--early on till present day (the films ends with the Britain subway bombing of a year or two back)--is challenging, upsetting and worth considering.


(Average 6.20)
10 Votes
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