Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Al Qaeda Files - Frontline

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
N/A out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: Not Rated

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Fullscreen
Running Time: 7 Hours

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Frontline: The Al Qaeda Files is a compilation of seven highly acclaimed programs - produced in the years following 9/11 - focusing on the inner workings of Al Qaeda and their ongoing conflicts with the United States.

Hunting Bin Laden
In August 1998, two cars exploded simultaneously at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 268 and injuring 5,000. CIA and FBI investigators soon identified suspects, including accused mastermind and Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. But was this an individual terrorist act, or a symptom of deeply rooted anti-U.S. vendettas?

Looking for Answers
Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were history's most devastating terrorist assault and the worst failure of U.S. intelligence in 60 years. Examine how the seeds of anti-American hatred were sown and investigate CIA and FBI failures to uncover the hijackers' plot.

The Man Who Knew
FBI Specialist John O'Neill was the bureau's top counter-terrorism agent, but his warnings about Al Qaeda were muted by headquarters. Trace the story of O'Neill's life and career, getting a rare glimpse into what the government knew about Al Qaeda.

In Search of Al Qaeda
Three months after 9/11, the War on Terror had crushed the Taliban, but members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network had escaped into Pakistan. Examine the quest to bring them to justice, as Frontline follows Al Qaeda's trail from Afghanistan to Pakistan's cities, and U.S. and Pakistani authorities track down its leaders.

Chasing the Sleeper Cell
What was the real story behind a group U.S. intelligence called America's "most dangerous terrorist cell"? Take an in-depth examination of a major domestic terrorism case involving Al Qaeda operatives and U.S. citizens as they trained, raising questions about FBI and CIA effectiveness. Can their new tools contain domestic threats?

Son of Al Qaeda
Growing up in the 1990s, Abdurahman Khadr's playmates were the children of his father's longtime friend, Osama bin Laden. Khadr was raised to be an al Qaeda terrorist, but he ultimately found himself working for the U.S. Through interviews with Khadr as well as his mother and siblings, the documentary recounts his incredible journey.

Al Qaeda's New Front
A filmmaker is murdered in a culture clash between Muslims and Christians in The Netherlands. A series of bombs tear apart four trains in Madrid. Al Qaeda terrorist cells are uncovered in the U.K., Germany, Italy, and Spain. Frontline investigates the new front in the war on terror: Europe."

"The Al Qaeda Files - Frontline" is not rated.

Mini-Review:
From an informational standpoint, these documentaries are excellent. They give a detailed history behind Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations well beyond what you typically get in newspapers and on TV. They give you a lot of insight into why the terrorists do what they do and how they do it. The same goes for those highlighted fighting them. In fact, this series from Frontline started discussing Bin Laden well before the September 11th attacks occurred. However, since the videos span from 2000 2005, some of the information they present is out of date. You learn a lot about where we've been in the war on terror but not where we are. For that you have to tune into Frontline on PBS. But I will say that it paints a better picture of the enemy we're fighting.

The videos themselves are quite remarkable. They manage to get candid interviews with terrorist suspects, their families, religious leaders, terrorism experts, and more. I was amazed at the access the Frontline reporters were given. These interviews are supplemented with rare videos of terrorist recruiting tapes, fighters in action, actual explosions, and more. It certainly helps to paint a more graphic picture of the situation. I was also struck by the types of people that were successfully recruited to be terrorists. Many were middle class students who fell in with extremists groups while studying overseas. It was certainly eye opening.

This video is worth checking out if you're into politics, the war on terror, or if you're a student writing a report on these subjects. They are well presented, unbiased discussions of our ongoing conflicts.

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