In the 1990s, the British government decided to talk with those it labelled ‘terrorists’. This led to the end of three decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Britain recognized that the Irish Republican Army had picked up the gun - for a reason.
But will this happen with Islamist groups who are now challenging Western power? The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes Islamist groups are fundamentally different to the nationalist, anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century. “The trouble with the al-Qaeda form of terrorism, based on a complete perversion of, of the faith of Islam, is that it’s un-negotiable”.
Rees then travels to Beirut to discover why Islamist groups are now the most potent threat to Western influence in the region. He arranges a clandestine rendezvous with a man linked to al-Qa'eda. His nom de guerre is Abu Haitham. He argues that Western governments and Israel can’t claim any moral high ground over those they label ‘terrorists’ because the West is responsible for the murder of many more innocent civilians. “Sheik Osama Bin Laden, may Allah preserve him, a few years ago he said we need to kill four million before we’re even, four million from the West before we’re even.”
Can terrorism be defined? Or should any group that uses violence to challenge a state be called terrorists?
In the final 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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