- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Media

Lights, camera, killing frenzy

Terror videos ripe for crossover success

19 March 2004

There is a new and booming sector of the black-market film economy. The films may be grainy, the camerawork shaky, the faces often obscured, but that hasn’t stopped the explosion in made-for-terrorist videos.

It seems you can’t arrest a single terror suspect these days without finding an “Arabic language” video in glovebox of his Ford Transit. It happened again with Jamal Zougam, one of the Moroccans arrested after the Madrid bombings. According to The Independent: “When police searched his home, they found videos of Islamic fighters…”

Of course, this is perfectly understandable. After a hard day trudging the streets of Madrid, planning terrorist atrocities, muttering twisted prayers of victory, and spitting at posters of whore Jennifer Aniston in Along Came Polly, the one thing Jamal would want to come home to is a fun and frothy video of men cradling automatic weapons and shaking gloved fists at the Stars and Stripes.

The Evening Standard claims investigators discovered “videos of a Moroccan terror suspect known to have entered Spain using a bogus British passport.” Videos of him doing what? Showing off his bogus passport with pride? Dancing to Rock Your Body?

Actually, it’s fair to assume the music of Justin Timberlake doesn’t feature too strongly on the video. Not after the Superbowl boobie incident. The cheeky popster lost a lot of grassroots support among fundamentalist Muslims for pulling Janet’s bra off. Justin is going to have to do a hell of a lot of touring now if he wants to crack the Middle East.

So, if not Timberlake, what was on Jamal’s tape? One has to understand that, as with pornography, there is a wide spectrum in terrorist video. Some terrorists go for a simple, doctrinal video: full of “Allah Akbars” and the heartfelt endorsement of suicide in the cause of righteousness. Others prefer to see troops posing manfully with weapons, or shooting at cut-outs of Donald Rumsfeld, or showing off the latest line in suicide vests. And at the very far end the spectrum, there are videos for the truly hardened freedom fighter. The snuff terror movie.

Two years ago, The Observer discovered gruesome jihad recruitment videos were being circulated at the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. Videos showing “people having their throats cut and the wholesale slaughter of secular forces”. Exactly the kind of film you’re going to want (and need) to see, over and over and over, if you’re about to drop off a rucksack on a commuter train.

The video provides a reassuring context for the madness of terrorism. The act of documentation gives, in itself, a sort of justification to the horror. “Look at these things,” it says. “This is what we can do if we put our minds to it. You can do it too.” Rather like a Paul McKenna video, but not quite as distasteful.

The video has become a key part of the in-house PR strategy of terror. They are, essentially, sales tools. And, as such, it is only a matter of time before decent money is diverted into their production, and they start getting really glossy and reel in Bruckheimer to produce.

At the moment, the industry is in its infancy. VHS is the preferred format. But it can’t be long before, like pornography, the shift is made into DVDs. Which has a very important implication: bloopers. Fluffed lines, dropped rifles, masks falling off during executions. And just wait until you see the out-take where the captive wriggles free just as they’re about to behead him and the sword cuts his nose off instead and so they shoot him in the stomach and he takes about quarter of an hour to bleed out.

Ah, you’ve got to laugh.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free

Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

© The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved