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U-35 Film Screening: Dugma – The Button
An intimate portrait of a group of very different suicide bombers working for Al Qaeda in Syria. From the Saudi who loves singing and fried chicken, to a 26-year-old white British convert who worries a lot about his new wife, this remarkable film embeds with an unlikely bunch of "martyrdom seekers", each waiting for their turn to go on a final mission, known by Jihadis as 'Dugma'.
The producer, Paul Refsdal, 52, is a freelance journalist who has spent more than three decades covering conflict around the world; he has previously reported from a dozen rebel groups in countries like Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Peru, Chechnya, Afghanistan, etc. Dugma was filmed over the course of two trips to Syria. Refsdal was in a village in the northern Syria province of Aleppo when he heard an explosion. Camera in hand, he jumped into a minibus driven by a fighter from the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, to inspect the damage. A U.S.-led coalition airstrike had hit a base in the town, leaving at least 10 people dead. A civilian speaks angrily into Refsdal's camera, saying the airstrike has targeted civilian homes and killed innocent people. A Nusra fighter interrupts: Easy now. There is both a military base and civilians here. Tell the truth", he says, before adding that the blass intended target was a Nusra base. Refsdal understood the implicit message from the Al-Qaeda member: Film what you wantwere not going to feed you propaganda. To his surprise, Refsdal found that the group remained committed to letting a Western journalist film the fighters openly and without censorship. Refsdal spent a total of six weeks embedded with the Nusra fighters.
The screening of ‘Dugma’ will be followed by a discussion with RUSI’s Raffaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies, and author of We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Terrorists (Hurst/Columbia University Press), a history of jihadism in the UK. Raffaello's research focuses on counter-terrorism as well as China's relations with its Western neighbours. Furthermore, he is an expert on lone-actor terrorism, ISIS and other groups.
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