Tuesday, July 17, 2018

|Podcast| Path of Blood - Jonathan Hacker

Photo Content from Jonathan Hacker

PATH OF BLOOD director and producer, Jonathan Hacker is an acclaimed documentary producer and director with numerous awards under his belt including the prestigious BAFTA and RTS awards. He read Modern History at Oxford University and then studied on a Rotary Scholarship at USC film school in Los Angeles. He started working in television drama before focusing on documentaries. His diverse documentary work ranges from high-profile international history series such as Secret Agent and Timewatch for the BBC, to hard-hitting current affairs programs such as Britain’s First Suicide Bombers which also tackled the subject of Al Qaeda.

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Abdulaziz al-Mudayhish
Born in Riyadh in 1971, Abdulaziz al-Mudayhish, or Ali as he was known within his cell, was an Al Qaeda member affiliated with Muqrin’s cell network in Riyadh. Ali was chosen to carry out the April 2004 Traffic Directorate bombing, using a GMC packed with over a ton of RDX explosives.

Ali was originally chosen for a compound bombing a month earlier, but this was thwarted by the security forces. Al Qaeda saw no purpose for Ali other than a suicide bombing. His first attempt at his suicide video will is well over two hours long, more than ninety minutes longer than his fellow bombers. He later records it, but struggles to read a script he didn’t write, and displays a lack of conviction and religious education. 

Prince Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud
Born in Jeddah in 1959, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz was appointed Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs in 1999. He was at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism programme since the formation of AQAP. Prince Muhammad is noted for establishing the Munasaha programme for the rehabilitation of those arrested for terrorism and extremism. He was appointed Minister of Interior in November 2012 and crown prince in 2015 but retired from public life in 2017.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Born in Riyadh in 1924, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz rose to prominence when he was made commander of the Saudi National Guard in 1963. Upon the death of King Khalid in 1982, he was appointed crown prince under his half-brother King Fahd, while also maintaining his position as head of the National Guard. He became king following the death of Fahd in August 2005. King Abdullah was seen as a moderately progressive ruler, having implemented a series of gradual reforms across many areas of Saudi society including education, the judiciary, the economy, healthcare, welfare and infrastructure. He died in January 2015 and was succeeded by his brother, the current king Salman.

Turki al-Dandani
Born in Sakaka in al-Jawf province in 1974, Turki al-Dandani was the head of the Riyadh cell which carried out the compound bombings in May 2003. From 8th May 2003, four days prior to the Riyadh bombings, until his death on 7th July, Dandani was named Saudi Arabia’s most wanted terrorist.

As a result, Dandani fled north in an attempt in leave the country from his home province of al-Jawf. It was here on 7th July 2003, in the town of Suwayr, that the security forces caught up with him. He and his men barricaded themselves into a mosque before huddling around a grenade and detonating it. 

Abdullah al-Rashoud
Born outside Riyadh in 1973, Abdullah al-Rashoud was a prominent Al Qaeda scholar and firebrand preacher based in and around the capital. In October 2003 Rashoud released an online video lecture entitled ‘Incite the believers’ in which he expounds the call for jihad in Saudi Arabia, particularly encouraging young men to join their cause. Rashoud was added to the MOI’s most-wanted list in December 2003 and went into hiding for a period of two years before moving to the Iraqi city of al-Qa’im where he re-joined Al Qaeda. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reported Rashoud’s death following a US air strike on 24th June 2005, giving an indication of Rashoud’s importance within the organisation.

Amr al-Shihri
Amr al-Shihri was an Al Qaeda member affiliated with the cell that carried out the Muhaya compound bombing in November 2003. Shihri was wounded in a raid on an Al Qaeda safe house in the Suwaidi neighbourhood of Riyadh on 6th November 2003. Cell leaders decided that taking him to hospital was too risky and he was left to die in a sound-proof room. His funeral prayers were led by Abdullah al-Rashoud before his body was taken into the desert outside of Riyadh and buried. His body was discovered by the security services in February 2004.

Abdulaziz al-Muqrin
Born in Riyadh in 1974, Abdulaziz al-Muqrin was a prominent leader of AQAP until his death in 2004. Muqrin travelled to Afghanistan in 1989 to train with the mujahideen, before heading to Somalia to join a growing force of jihadists in the civil war. Muqrin was arrested by the Somali authorities, deported to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned for just a year and a half, after he was let out early as a reward for memorising the Qur’an. He returned to Afghanistan in 2001 to join Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and received further military training. By mid-2002 Muqrin had returned to Riyadh and was effectively in charge of military operations in Saudi Arabia.

Muqrin was number five on the MOI’s list of most-wanted terrorists in May 2003, but following the death of Turki al-Dandani in July 2003 he quickly assumed leadership of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. He planned, orchestrated and recorded the Muhaya Compound bombing in November 2003, consequently rising to public enemy number one, before masterminding the aborted bombings of March 2004. He redistributed the resources for this attack into the bombing of April 2004 against the traffic police headquarters, before directing his right-hand man Turki al-Mutayri to carry out the Khobar Massacre in May 2004. According to Al Qaeda, Muqrin was present at the shooting of Frank Gardener and Simon Cumbers on 6th June 2004, and appeared on the tape announcing the killing of Paul Johnson on the 18th of that month. Hours after the execution of Johnson, Saudi security services spotted Muqrin’s car at a petrol station in central Riyadh. Security forces engaged the group and Muqrin was killed along with three close associates.

Muqrin’s death led to a lasting power vacuum within the leadership of AQAP, while their ability to carry out devastating attacks was also curtailed.

Fahd al-Juwayr
Born in Zulfi in 1971 and raised in Riyadh, Fahd al-Juwayr was a junior AQAP member who went on to proclaim himself leader of the organisation in the latter half of 2005. Juwayr was originally chosen to be a suicide bomber in the aborted compound bombings of March 2004. He played a role in the kidnapping of Paul Johnson in June 2004 and helped prepare the truck bombs for the attack on the Ministry of Interior in December 2004. Following the deaths of many senior AQAP members in the siege of al-Rass in April 2005, Juwayr was promoted to head of the Riyadh and Kharj cells of which he had previously been a member.

In July 2005, AQAP leader Yunus al-Hayari was also killed, and Juwayr proclaimed himself leader. Under his leadership the organisation planned and carried out the February 2006 oil refinery attack in Abqaiq, with Juwayr playing a central role in the raid. After the bombing, Juwayr led the attack’s command team back to a safe house in the Yarmouk neighbourhood of Riyadh. There they were raided by the security forces and all members of the cell, including Juwayr, were killed.

Abdullah al-Asiri
Born in Riyadh in 1986, Abdullah al-Asiri was recruited into Al Qaeda by his elder brother, Ibrahim. Ibrahim al-Asiri (b. 1982) is suspected of being the chief bomb maker of AQAP in recent years, responsible for the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot (‘Underwear Bomber’) and the 2010 Cargo Planes bomb plot (‘Printer Cartridge Bombs’). Ibrahim and Abdullah joined Al Qaeda in Yemen and were added to the MOI’s list of most-wanted terrorists in February 2009. Abdullah carried out an assassination attempt on Prince Muhammad bin Nayef on 27th August 2009, using an explosive device hidden in his rectum that was developed by his brother—who remains at large.

Mark Boal
PATH OF BLOOD executive producer, Mark Boal has written the screenplays for and produced the motion pictures The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, and Detroit, a trilogy of collaborations with director Kathyrn Bigelow. Boal won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and for producing Best Picture Winner The Hurt Locker, and was again nominated for the Original Screenplay of Zero Dark Thirty. He won the Best Original Screenplay award for both from the Writers Guild of America. Boal heads the writer-focused LA and NY-based film and television development and production company Page 1 in partnership with Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures. Page 1 combines journalism and entertainment in a unique model unifying reportage with the film and television development process. Boal’s upcoming projects include the action feature Triple Frontier set for release via Netflix in 2019.

Abdulrahman Alrashed
PATH OF BLOOD executive producer, Abdulrahman Alrashed was the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. An internationally acclaimed journalist, he was also editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Alrashed’s articles have garnered worldwide recognition, and he successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today, working to ‘to cure Arab television of its penchant for radical politics and violence’.
Adel Alabdulkarim

PATH OF BLOOD executive producer Adel Alabdulkarim has been the executive producer of a wide range of documentaries, commercials, advertising campaigns, and news features both in the Middle East and the UK. His clients have included BBC TV, PBS, APTN, the New York Times and the government of Saudi Arabia. He set up and managed the first privately owned news agency in the Kingdom and went on to manage OR Madarat, the country’s leading independent TV production company.

Peter Haddon
PATH OF BLOOD editor, Peter Haddan is an award-winning video editor specialising in feature length documentary. He has a passion for telling extraordinary stories about extraordinary people. He has won RTS awards for his editing on Marathon Boy (also nominated for an Emmy and a Grierson Award) and A State of Mind (also won RTS for Best Feature Documentary) as well as a BAFTA nomination for editing on The Battle for Haiti, which won a BAFTA for director Dan Reed. His work also includes Grierson Award winning feature documentary Fire in Babylon, the BAFTA winning documentary TV series Our War: The Lost Platoon, and Grierson Award nominated Children of the Tsunami.

Chad Hobson
PATH OF BLOOD composer, Chad Hobson is a classically trained composer. He began his career in pop music working with bands as diverse as Snoop Dogg, Massive Attack, Finley Quaye, Take That and Des’ree. In 2008 Chad completed the score for the hit film Adulthood, sequel to the highly acclaimed British independent film Kidulthood, where he merged film music with underground hip hop and grime. Chad’s musical diversity can be heard in films such as Ninja Assassin, Stardust, Hannibal Rising, Strength and Honour and Battle of Haditha. He also composed the music for the BAFTA award winning BBC1 series Fight for Life, along with many documentaries and dramas for Ch4 and the BBC. He also composed the music for Telstar, a play about legendary record producer Joe Meek.

Stevie Haywood
PATH OF BLOOD sound supervisor, Stevie Haywood, (AMPS), has been working with sound for picture since 1995, primarily as a sound recordist, but also in sound for post-production. He has worked on a diverse range of features, dramas, documentaries and commercials for both film and television. He won the 2012 BIFA and an ALFS 2013 nomination for sound on Berberian Sound Studio.

Director & Producer: Jonathan Hacker
Executive Producers: Mark Boal (ZERO DARK THIRTY), Abdulrahman Alrashed, Adel Alabdulkarim
Editor: Peter Haddon
Composer: Chad Hobson
Narrator: Samuel West
Voice of Jihad: Tom Hollander
Length: 91 mins
Language: Arabic, English
Subtitles: English
Country: United Kingdom/ Saudi Arabia

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Hacker and based on his book of the same title, PATH OF BLOOD depicts Islamist terrorism, as it has never been seen before. Drawn from a hoard of jihadi home-movie footage that was captured by Saudi security services, this is the story of Muslim terrorists targeting Muslim civilians and brought to justice by Muslim security agents. It is a stark reminder that all who are touched by terrorism are victimized by it.

A powerful and sometimes shocking cinematic experience, PATH OF BLOOD reveals how brainwashed youths, fuelled by idealism and the misguided pursuit of adventure, can descend into madness and carnage. The raw, unvarnished footage, to which the filmmakers negotiated exclusive access, captures young thrill-seekers at a jihadi “boot camp” deep in the Saudi desert, having signed on to overthrow the Saudi government. They plot to detonate car bombs in downtown Riyadh, become embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse with government forces and, as their plans unravel, resort to ever more brutal tactics.

Adopting a strictly objective approach, the film doesn’t editorialize and contains no interviews or “talking heads” commentary. The home video footage was shot by the terrorists themselves, allowing viewers to see them in all their complexity, while compelling audiences to draw their own conclusions.
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