Unethical Morality in “Documenting” Terrorism: Terror at the Mall, Nowhere to Run, Wolves of Westgate


The enemy must fear us. When this is over, there will be much more fear in the world. […] Give the government an ultimatum. Say, “This was just the trailer. Just wait till you see the rest of the film.”

The overhanging statement – which draws attention to troubling links interconnecting action cinema and acts of terrorism – is delivered towards the end of Dan Reed’s Terror in Mumbai (UK, 2009), an insightful documentary that unfolds a balanced enquiry into the November 2008 massacre by the South Asian terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (the Army of the Righteous). The film weaves hours of phone intercepts between a Pakistani handler and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba agents into a collage of recovered CCTV footage, live news reportage, survivor testimonies and interviews. The documentary also embeds alarming images from Mohammed Ajmal Kasab’s interrogation, the sole captured terrorist, as he describes his background, training, and the motivation behind his participation in the attacks. The mosaic film thus builds up a complicated three-dimensional story that offers viewers an atypical glimpse into and behind this phenomenon.

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