Film Review: The Terrorist as Human

THE OATH (on DVD; Zeitgeist)

| September-October 2010

Jihadist or infidel? Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard or Yemeni taxi driver? Radical ideologue or reformed family man? Abu Jandal is all of these—and more. This exquisitely constructed documentary reveals the many layers of a man who once pledged himself to al-Qaeda and is now plagued by internal conflicts and guilt over the arrest of his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan, who successfully challenged his incarceration at Guantánamo Bay in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Alternating between Hamdan’s Gitmo trial and Jandal’s fraught freedom in Yemen, The Oath paints a fascinating portrait of the complexities of Islamic fundamentalism and those who are caught in its thrall.