Feature

The Cult of the Suicide Bomber

An ex-CIA agent struggles to explain the allure of dying for a cause.

Many of us flock to summer blockbusters in order to see violence and explosions, said David Denby in The New Yorker. But the explosions in The Cult of the Suicide Bomber have a profoundly different effect. These are real explosions, in which real people die. It's a 'œkick in the gut.' In 2005, former CIA operative Robert Baer toured the Middle East with a camera crew, interviewing Lebanese and Israeli intelligence officers and politicians, and the families of suicide bombers and their victims. In between interviews, he lays out the history of suicide as a weapon. This is not the 'œcan't-we-get-along, Arab-Persian world we see in most liberal nonfiction films,' said Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. This is a more sweeping and 'œapocalyptic view of an entire region crazed with anger, frustration, and bloodlust.' Baer's long experience in the region allows him to strike a refreshing political balance—revolted by the violence but well aware of its origins in U.S.-sponsored oppression. But like many political films, Baer's contains 'œmore information than analysis,' said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Then again, all the political analysis in the world might be insufficient to explain the euphoric faces of bombers in those pre-mission videos 'œwith which we have all become so lamentably familiar.'

Rating: Not Rated

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