Human Weapon

A new chapter in the bloody annals of terrorism was opened on the afternoon of April 18, 1983, when an anonymous driver crashed a truck packed with explosives into the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing himself and 63 others. Ilan Ziv's chilling, hour-long documentary makes clear that the bombing was not just a devastating physical assault, but...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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A new chapter in the bloody annals of terrorism was opened on the afternoon of April 18, 1983, when an anonymous driver crashed a truck packed with explosives into the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing himself and 63 others. Ilan Ziv's chilling, hour-long documentary makes clear that the bombing was not just a devastating physical assault, but caused enormous psychological after-shocks: for the first time in modern history, human beings were being recruited for the sole purpose of using themselves as weapons. (Japanese kamikaze pilots were military personnel first; their suicide missions were a last resort.) Filled with the testimonies of experts, would-be bombers and the family members of those who succeeded — many proud, others simply shocked — the film is structured as a guided tour through some of the most embattled regions of the globe, where suicide bombings have become a powerful weapon of the poor. Ex-CIA agent Robert Baer traces the still-anonymous embassy bomber back to the Iran-Iraq war and his possible involvement with the Basji, an army of young suicide fighters brainwashed by the Iranian military into serving as a human shield against superior Iraqi weaponry. Ziv then pays a disturbing visit to a Lebanese widow and her young children, whose father blew himself up as part of Hezbollah's war against Israeli occupation. His "martyrdom" was videotaped for public broadcast, and the family sits around its humble living room proudly watching his "operation" over and over again. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers have long used human bombs in their 20-year war for independence. Many of these "Black Tigers" are women, taken from their families while still children and raised at jungle camps with the sole purpose of one day sacrificing themselves for the cause. Ziv brings the film up-to-date by focussing on Mohammad Daragmeh, the Palestinian suicide bomber who killed 10 civilians in a Jerusalem neighborhood in 2002, and considers the way in which the concept of Jihad has become part of the next phase in the evolution of the human bomb. No longer considered an act of suicide, which the Koran strictly forbids, sacrificing one's life for a cause has been reconfigured as a glorious act of martyrdom in an ongoing holy war and condoned by many radical Islamicist leaders. "There is no antidote for the human bomb," one Sri Lankan official flatly states, but Ziv's film offers a number of important insights into a phenomenon that's only gaining momentum. (In English, Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Tamil with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A new chapter in the bloody annals of terrorism was opened on the afternoon of April 18, 1983, when an anonymous driver crashed a truck packed with explosives into the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing himself and 63 others. Ilan Ziv's chilling,… (more)

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