Former CIA agent Robert Baer, whose memoir See No Evil was the basis for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film SYRIANA, narrates this chilling expose of that most terrifying of modern terrorists: the suicide bomber. Baer's search begins in Iran, where, after the 1979 Islamic revolution ended the Shah's secular rule, the Ayatollah Khomeini established the ideology of martyrdom by tapping into the 1,400-year-old conflict between the warring Shia and Sunni groups. Using the fallen Shia martyr al-Hussein as a motivational model, Khomeini promised a place in paradise for all who died fighting the Iraqis in the bitter Iraq-Iran war. But, Baer argues, it was a 13-year-old Iranian child soldier named Hossein Fahmideh who willingly engineered his own death by strapping explosives to his small body and throwing himself under an oncoming Iraqi tank, making him the world's first suicide bomber. Baer then travels to Beirut, where the April 18, 1983, car bombing of the American embassy took the lives of 63 people, many of whom were Baer's CIA colleagues. (The mystery of that bombing would become a consuming obsession for him.) The event was the first modern suicide attack against Western interests, but not the first car bomb: That milestone was passed a few months earlier, when Abdallah Qassir, a young member of the nascent Hezbollah, killed himself and 74 Israeli soldiers at a military headquarters in Tyre. In October of 1983, another suicide attack — the biggest non-nuclear blast since World War II — killed 241 servicemen at a U.S. Marines barracks outside Beirut. Baer's journey next takes him to the Gaza Strip, then the West Bank city of Hebron, where, in February 2004, militant Zionist Baruch Goldstein opened fire on a crowded mosque, murdering 29 worshippers. The attack prompted Hamas to respond with the first of a seemingly endless string of suicide bombings within Israel that specifically targeted civilians. All at once, a grim military weapon had become a tool of terrorism. As the title suggests, Baer is primarily concerned with the cult surrounding suicide bombers in parts of the Muslim world, a cult that regards them not as killers or even suicides but as martyrs, heroes and, most disturbingly, international role models. Baer asks all the right questions, and presumably the connections he made during 20 years with the Agency, coupled with his Arabic-language skills and knowledge of Islamic customs and culture, gained him unprecedented access to people as diverse as Israeli intelligence officers, imprisoned would-be bombers and the family of Yahya Ayyash, the mastermind behind at least 10 suicide bombings inside Israel that killed 130 civilians.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Former CIA agent Robert Baer, whose memoir See No Evil was the basis for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film SYRIANA, narrates this chilling expose of that most terrifying of modern terrorists: the suicide bomber. Baer's search begins in Iran, where, after… (more)