Have you ever wondered what motivates ordinary people to commit acts of unthinkable violence? The last decades have been dominated by images of destruction: New York, London, Madrid, Nice, Baghdad, Kabul, and countless other cities. Now, a British filmmaker is endeavouring to describe the incentives behind these attacks in a new documentary called Path of Blood. Not the geopolitical machinations of terrorist leaders but the motivations of the suicide bombers.
Jonathan Hacker, the director of the documentary, believes that the film will allow the audience to relate to and understand a lot of the developments that have recently been shaping the geopolitical situation not only in the Middle East, but across the globe. Hacker is obviously referring to the 9/11 hijackers, who, with their cowardly actions, have shaped 21st century American and Western foreign policy.
But what makes Path of Blood different from other documentaries or war movies? The combination of raw Jihadist footage and law enforcement footage. Hacker alternates between the perpetrators and the victims. Utilising captured homemade Jihadist footage, he first depicts the physical and mental preparation that precedes a suicide attack. Thereafter, he uses CCTV and police footage to show the aftermath through the eyes of the target. The documentary almost exclusively uses footage captured by the Saudi security services.
Despite the often brutal and graphic images, the British director believes that it’s an exciting film. “There is no way that anyone is bored for a second in this film,” he said. Furthermore, he argues that the film will help debunk numerous myths behind the reasons that drive ordinary young men and women to strap themselves with explosives and attempt to kill as many innocent people as possible. What the documentary depicts isn’t brainwashed robots that mechanically drive or walk to their own deaths. Rather, it portrays frightened everyday men and women who joke around whilst preparing to martyr themselves.
“We have in our minds a very simplistic conception of their psychology,” he added, “and I think when you watch this film you absolutely get to understand that these are ordinary kids — often very young, often very naive, often very stupid even — but they are still capable of great evil because of the belief system they’ve bought into.”
Understanding one’s enemy is the first step to defeating him. Despite its brutishness, this documentary should be an essential watch for policymakers. And in the United Kingdom, they seem to understand this. Path of Blood was screened for members of Parliament in an attempt to educate them and enable them to make better decisions on how to deal with terrorism.
The documentary is now available for the general public in numerous online platforms.