Path of Blood is an opportunity to meet a few Islamic terrorists. Yeah, not the people I look forward to meeting either, but this documentary from Jonathan Hacker gives us a chance to meet some of those in Al Qaeda and we may be surprised at what we see.
The film is set in the six-year battle between Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Saudi security services. That in itself is a reminder to us that most of the things done by Islamic terrorists take place in the Arab world—and kill mostly other Moslems. The film is made up of footage shot by the Saudi security forces and footage that the security forces captured in raids on AQAP safe houses. Much of the captured AQAP footage shows training and some of the wills of suicide bombers made before their deadly missions. The footage made by both sides is presented without commentary, so that viewers can assess these messages for themselves. Those messages present two very different world views, both coming out of understandings of Islam.
In no way does this film glamorize or promote terrorism or Al Qaeda’s philosophy. But it does put a human face on some of those involved. The film opens with a series of outtakes of “Ali’s” martyr video. Ali is something of a class clown and he is constantly messing up, laughing, or joking through these outtakes. He can’t remember the things he’s been told to say in the video. And yet, this is someone whose life will soon be ending. We laugh at Ali and then feel a certain amount of pathos for him, even though we never approve of what he plans to do.
Of course, we may be taken aback a bit when we hear those in Al Qaeda speaking of fighting God’s battle. But we should realize that people of many nations and times have claimed God was on their side in whatever war they were fighting. I found it ironic that AQ speakers frequently referred to non-Arabs in their country as “crusaders”, because the medieval crusaders had the same understanding of what they were doing as AQ: They believed that they were fighting God’s holy war and that to die in the process was a ticket to heaven. The more things change the more they remain the same.
It should be noted that there is some slightly gruesome and cruel footage included in this film. That is natural considering the nature of the footage that has been edited together in this film. But the filmmakers have kept such distasteful visuals at a minimum.
While watching the film, I was mindful that this could easily be seen as a battle between good and evil. However, I was also mindful that both the Saudi security services and AQAP would agree with that assessment—with themselves being on the side of good. That serves as a reminder that people of any faith should be slow to ever claim God is on our side in any war or battle.
Photos courtesy of OR Media/Paladin