In May, 2003, just one month after the statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down in Baghdad's Firdos Square, followed just days later by the first insurgent counterstrike against coalition troops, journalists Steve Connor and Molly Bingham began making contact with members of the growing resistance in and around the Sunni-dominated Al Adhamiya neighborhood of northern Baghdad. Over the next ten months, they would succeed in interviewing a wide variety of insurgents dedicated to forcing the occupation troops out of Iraq. Although their real names are never given and their faces are never shown, their important film shows the multi-faceted aspect of the Iraqi resistance movement with in particular regions, and makes for essential viewing.
The diversity among the fighters is striking, yet common threads of feeling unite them all. "The Teacher" is a father of three who at first helped the coalition forces navigate the labyrinthine back streets of Al Adhamiya, but soon changed his perspective on the invaders when he saw how Saddam, whom he'd previously despised, was being treatd. Nationalist pride also motivates the man who is referred to as "The Warrior." Once a special forces officer sent to Kerbala and Najaf to crush the Shia insurrection that followed the first Gulf War, the Warrior was later punished as suspected traitor because he did not die in the effort. He vowed never to wear a uniformed again. But like The Teacher, he had a change of heart when he saw the American forces overrun his country. Now determined to defend his country's honor, he vows to show the U.S. forces "what an Iraqi" man can do," and show them that they are not welcome in the most violent way possible. "The Traveler," once a member of the Ba'ath who quit in frustration over the level of government corruption, fought for 20 years for the liberation of Palestine, and now feels compelled to fight for his own country. He believes that this latest struggle is another good opportunity to foster solidarity not just within Iraq, but across the entire Arab world. "The Syrian" answered the call: He got permission from his parents to fight the jihad in Iraq, and arrived in Fallujah in July. "The Republican Guard" offers an interesting insight into the tensions between Sunni and Shia. A career officer in Saddam's army, the Republican Guard is a Sunni married to Shia, yet balked at joining a group of men who claimed to have both weapons and funding to fight the coalition forces in the days following the fall of Saddam.
Connor and Bingham's subjects offer interesting insights into just how early in the U.S.-led war the insurgency began organizing, and how these organizations are funded both locally and internationally and how they're armed and run. And they get close -- very close: Two insurgents are seen constructing an IED no doubt intended for a U.S. military target. But by focusing solely on the Al Adhamiya neighborhood, the filmmakers may not be able to accurately gauge how tensions between Sunni and Shias in other regions come into play and how the rapidly changing populations of former sectarian strongholds has affected the insurgency movement in the three years since their last interview. Nevertheless, their film is a rare opportunity to hear from the insurgents themselves; particularly chilling is the voice of a woman who is called simply "The Wife" admitting that yes, some Iraqi women do hide weapons under their all-concealing abayas. Understanding who these people really are and what motivates them to take up arms against their "liberators" is an important step toward countering their efforts.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: NR
- Review: In May, 2003, just one month after the statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down in Baghdad's Firdos Square, followed just days later by the first insurgent counterstrike against coalition troops, journalists Steve Connor and Molly Bingham began making conta… (more)