The war in Afghanistan is frequently reported from the frontlines by journalists embedded with US and international forces. However, the war is almost never seen from the other side. During late 2009, veteran Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi managed to embed himself with an insurgent cell closer to Al-Qaeda than are the Taliban, the notorious Hezb-i-Islam. This film documents Quraishi's trip, as he accompanies the cell in northern Afghanistan, filming and interviewing while they prepare attacks on U.S./NATO supply routes and personnel. Local soldiers and police allied with the government and international forces are all fair game for the insurgents' deadly plans. However, not all does goes to plan, for any of the people in this film, and Quraishi soon finds himself falling back on his escape plan sooner than expected, when his hosts are instructed to kill him.
This film has been applauded and condemned in almost equal measure by its audiences in several continents. On the one hand, the film has been applauded for showing the harsh and sometimes comical reality of life in one of the insurgency cells, up close and personal, warts and all. On the other hand, Quraishi's cosy familiarity with the cell members, and his foreknowledge of their deadly plans, has drawn condemnation from relatives of western soldiers serving in Afghanistan, who are worried that the film is a propaganda coup for Al-Qaeda, Hezb-i-Islam and the Taliban. Judge for yourself.
LINKS WE LIKE:
PBS 'Frontline', episode page for Behind Taliban Lines
Channel4 'Dispatches', episode page for Behind Enemy Lines
Channel4 news blog (Jonathan Miller talks with Clover Films' very own Najibullah Qureshi)
IWPR news site (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
PRESS (related press & blog coverage):
Wall Street Journal (Dorothy Rabinowitz): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703315004575073411547358310.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel
New York Times (Mike Hale review): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/arts/television/23behind.html?ref=television
Canwest News Service: Montreal Gazette (Alex Strachen): http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Afghan+journalist+gets+close+look+Taliban/2599739/story.html ; Ottawa Citizen (Alex Strachan):
The World (MP3 – Marco Werman talks with Najibullah Quraishi): http://www.theworld.org/2010/02/23/behind-taliban-lines
PopMatters (Cynthia Fuchs review): http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/121369-frontline-behind-taliban-lines
About:Middle East Issues (Pierre Tristam): http://middleeast.about.com/b/2010/03/21/frontlines-behind-taliban-lines.htm