AFI Docs Film ‘Recruiting for Jihad’ Offers Close-Up Look at the Lure of ISIS

One of the most anticipated titles at this week’s AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington is “Recruiting for Jihad,” in which a Norwegian filmmaker spends several years with a jihadist extremist as he draws young men in to fight for ISIS.

Adel Khan Farooq and his co-director, Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, eventually found themselves at the center of a protracted legal battle after Norwegian authorities seized their footage during production, as part of their investigation into the activities of Ubaydullah Hussain, the recruiter who is also a well-known media figure for his promotion of jihadism.

Farooq and Rolfsen’s battle for press freedom, and the ability to protect their source material, takes them all the way to the Norwegian Supreme Court, where they won a key victory in 2015.

An extended version of the movie has its premiere on Friday night at the festival. Here’s an exclusive clip:

“I had been filming for two or three years and what I really saw was the warmth and love between them, which I didn’t actually see in the media or the news, because you usually see what they say and what they feel and their rage,” Farooq said in an interview with Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

Farooq captured the moment when Ubaydullah took one of his recruits to the airport, sending him off to Syria with the promise that joining the fight against ISIS would be glorious. In fact, it likely meant death.

“It was very hard for me not to intervene because I have feelings, and I got very intrigued by what he said. And he somehow made it all sound like a fairy tale with a happy ending, but we all know that it wasn’t, and that was quite shocking to me,” Farooq says. Ubaydullah’s recruit, identified as Peter, was arrested en route, and Ubaydullah himself was apprehended soon after.

Rolfsen said that they retained all editorial control of the project.

Listen below:

Here’s an exclusive clip:

FIRST DAY OF SHOTING from Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen on Vimeo.

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It’s also available on demand.

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