The world has watched aghast as thousands of young men and women
abandon comfortable lives in the West to join the barbaric ISIS (Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria). Girls and boys have gone rapidly from being
apparently well-adjusted school kids, to enthusiastically joining the
ranks of Kalashnikov-wielding religious warriors and burkah-clad “jihadi
brides”. It feels like a new and frightening phenomenon, one which has
left many feeling bewildered and revulsed.
But as this new documentary film by Emmy Award winning director
Deeyah Khan shows, Westerners embracing jihad and death is nothing new.
For three generations now, young people across Europe have fallen prey
to extremist groups and fought, killed and died with mujahideen
movements from Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kashmir, to Chechnya and Burma.
In this film, Deeyah, who has herself faced threats from extremist
fundamentalists in the past, sets out to find out why the jihadi message
has such an alluring hold on young Westerners.
First, she went back to the roots, spending two years with some of
the leading figures in the British jihadi movement from previous
generations. She secured unprecedentedly emotional and raw testimony
from former extremists, learning from the inside what it is like to be
drawn into radicalism, to have your life ruined by extremism and
violence, a message which has continued appeal cascading down through
In JIHAD, Deeyah meets one of the founding fathers
of the British jihad, who went abroad to fight, and who preached
extremism to thousands of young Muslims across the UK and the West.
Deeyah’s search for answers then takes her to the streets of modern
Britain, meeting today’s young Muslims, caught between extremism and the
War on Terror. She meets young British Muslims who feel angry and
alienated, facing issues of discrimination, identity crises and
rejection by both mainstream society and their own communities and
families; but in surprising moments of insight and enlightenment, she
also finds hope and some possible answers to the complex situation we
are currently in
From the fevered imagination of