Death of the Freedom Fighter

On one summer evening in 1979, Phil Rees was in a bar in Co. Cavan, Ireland, when he was jarred by reports on the news. He was a young man, barely out of his teens. The IRA had murdered Lord Mountbatten, two teenage boys and 18 British soldiers. What happened next was distressing. In this bar, people cheered. It was as if they were breathing a different air. Until then, Rees had an impression from the British media that the IRA were evil terrorists. But this meeting with otherwise warm, friendly people who supported the IRA, set Rees off on a journey that has taken nearly three decades – to search for a workable definition of a terrorist.

From Ireland, the film moves to a US military outpost on the far-reaches of eastern Afghanistan, the Korengal Valley. This is the frontline of the West’s ‘war on terror’. While Rees was there, Taliban fighters attacked the platoon’s camp, called ‘Firebase Vegas’. He asks the soldiers; why is the West fighting a ‘war on terror’ and where is the finishing line? They say there are engaging ‘the terrorists’ in Afghanistan so the don’t attack their families at home. There is no end in sight, they say.

Can terrorism be defined? Or should any group that uses violence to challenge a state be called terrorists?
In the first episode of the series made for Al Jazeera Network, Phil Rees asks if the old adage that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter still applies in the post 9/11 world.

Director: Kai Lawrence
Series Producer: Marc Perkins
Executive Producer: Phil Rees

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