Unmasking Jihadi John (2019)

7.5
  • TV-14
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release year: 2019 (2019-07-31)
  • Running time: \N min
  • Original Title: Unmasking Jihadi John
  • Voted: 88
#PersonCharacters
  • America Had No Role in This? 8/1/2019 12:00:00 AM by gsandra-26876 4

    There's no mention in this film about the role America has played in the Middle East. It hasn't dawned on any of the writers/producers of this film to include the trumped-up blame on hapless Saddam and Iraq. So we bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen and Syria (some of the total of 76 countries we have either invaded, bombed, or arranged for regime change since World War II). When you kill the mothers, sisters, daughters, sons, fathers, and children in a country -- people tend to want to exact revenge for their anguish. But America discounts the sins of America and blames any country (that's convenient or that has resources we want) and away we go on forever wars. We are not the heroes of this story nor the victims. We start stuff and then are surprised when things go to hell. America will not be remembered well when the real history of the world is written.

  • Ambitious and sobering documentary with at times an overload of information 8/1/2019 12:00:00 AM by paul-allaer 6

    "Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist" (2019 release; 98 min.) is a documentary about the infamous Kuwaiti-born, British-raised Mohammed Emwazi who eventually became known as "Jihadi John". As the documentary opens, we see footage of the erstwhile elusive terrorist who now makes videos of his brutal murders and killings. Based on those videos (and the guy's size, hands, and voice), the British authorities are able to identify him "within hours", according to a British intelligence officer. We then go back in time, and get a quick overview of Mohammed's life, including his struggles at school in Britain (his family moved there when he was just 6). All the while we are seeking clues on how Mohammed pivoted towards becoming one of the most notorious terrorists ever (and that is saying something)... At this point we are 10 min. into the documentary.

    Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from British director Anthony Wonke, who has within his body of coumentaries carved out a sub-specialty on documents about the state of affairs in the Middle East, check out in particular his 2014 widely acclaimed documentary "Children on the Frontline -Syria". This time around, Wonke examines the origins of both Jihadi John ("What drives a person to become a terrorist", someone asks. Turns out the answer to that is very complicated and nuanced), and also the origins of ISIS (Gen. Petraeus comments: "the US detention camps in Iraq"). Wonke puts it all into context, almost at a point of providing too much information is this 100 min. setting. I simply couldn't keep up with the many (Arabic, and hence unfamiliar) names that Wonke and the many talking heads in this documentary throw out there. In the end, the overall tone of this documentary is very sobering, and drives home the point once again how incredibly complex the situation is in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria and Iraq (not that other places like Afghanistan and Somalia are that much easier). But beware, this is not the type of documentary where at its conclusion you go "well that was fun!"...

    "Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist" premiered earlier this week on HBO (where I saw it). If you are in the mood for an ambitious and sobering documentary about ISIS and one man's journey becoming a brutal terrorist-killer, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

  • Jihadi John review 8/1/2019 12:00:00 AM by radioconductor 10

    They're trying to create a free society where they can say that you should face the consequences of your actions by framing their actions as another person's and covering up the crimes against person's they've committed by destroying those people. That is already against the law.

  • Yawn... 8/1/2019 12:00:00 AM by BlobbyLight 1

    It's a dumb story about a dumber war and the former dumbest person on the planet. Not surprised HBO is behind this dumbed down Vice-like tabloid shock for ratings cash grab off the backs of the innocent dead. Well, I got news for ya HBO, I aint as dumb as you think I is! So there. Yawn...

  • Overwhelming possibly, it mentions the core issue but focuses on flash 8/3/2019 12:00:00 AM by jrneptune 7

    A lot of details and interviews to soak in. The documentary does start off explaining some of it is re-enacted but not really done so it is an issue. If anything there might be too many interviews as many of them are the same person explaining another step or event in the life of the subject.

    I did feel the main take away was how did an individual growing up in Britain get so hateful? It is almost the question of which came first the chicken or the egg? He already had insecurity issues growing up and the pressures of the security and intelligence agencies that started getting involved in his life were probably a factor in only making things worst. Not just one but three of the people interviewed also mentioned that to include General Petraeus who ended up taking over security for Iraq and later the CIA. The General even stated when he took over in Iraq he realized that the camps for security risks were in fact breeding and recruitment centers for Al-Qaeda and other forces.

    The post-9/11 world created a lot of paranoia against not just the Muslim world but anyone who looked different and much of the security although it might have been well intentioned it probably created problems as well for many. With the rise of Social media the bad side of it only had a chance for more exposure and people like the subject of the film knew full well how to take advantage of that.

    I feel a bit saddened in that one of the interviews, it was pointed out that at the peak of the subjects cruelty, the media knew they were feeding his desire for exposure about the killings and they only covered it more. They should also put some time into explaining how the folks perpetuating such barbarities also have mental issues as well as some stations actually have done that.

    I agree with the one critic in that the documentary is not a must see but if you take the time to look at the deeper issue as to why he became a terrorist and how governments, security, and intelligence agencies have to implement policies to make sure they are being respectful of people while at the same time providing security.

    It is worth watching for those who want to see one example of how a person did get transformed into a terrorist. The documentary title shows that as the focus as well. It probably could have been presented in a cleared fashion but then it would not have had all the "flash" or eye candy to draw people into watching it.

#PersonCrew
1Walter Maircomposer
2Anthony Wonkedirector
3Paul Monaghaneditor
4Richard Kerbajwriter