Films on Terrorists

The Power of Nightmares:
The Rise of the Politics of Fear

Documentary 2004 NR 180 minutes.  This three-part documentary explores the use of fear for political gain, given the lasting impact of 9/11 and with media sensationalism at an all-time high. This is not about nightmares, but instead about people in power who give us nightmares for their own benefit.  The first, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” examines historical aspects of international threats. “The Phantom Victory” looks at how two disparate groups, radical Islamists and neo-conservatives, apply similar tactics. And “The Shadows in the Cave” asks the question, “Is organized terrorism an illusion?”  The facts revealed by this documentary series are very interesting and will change your perception of what they call the “War on Terror”.  See Full Review

Top Secret America:
9/11 to the Boston Bombings

Documentary Frontline 2011 Sept6. Frontline traces the journey from 9/11 to the Marathon bombings and investigates the secret history of the 12-year battle against terrorism. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Americans are asking why the country’s intelligence agencies failed to prevent the devastating attack. Link to View This Frontline Story for Free (Listed by Date 2011 Sept6):

Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers

Documentary National Geographic 2014. This film uses interviews, re-enactments, emergency radio transmissions and archive footage to tell the story of the attack and its aftermath. The story is told in chronological order but weaves together points of view from victims, first responders, law enforcement, medical staff and elected officials.

Countdown to Zero

Documentary 2009 PG 92 minutes. Since the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945, scientists and world leaders have grappled with the apocalyptic dangers and paradoxes posed by nuclear weapons. Lucy Walker’s documentary presents an unblinking look at humanity’s lethal predicament. See Full Review

Please Remove Your Shoes

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 33m. This troubling documentary examines the Transportation Security Administration’s role as protector of the American skies, raising questions about the disturbing gap between the federal agency’s avowed purpose and actual airport safety since 9/11. See Full Review


Documentary 2002 NR 130 minutes. This heartfelt documentary was created by award-winning French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, who simply set out to make a movie about a rookie NYC fireman and ended up filming the tragic event that changed our lives forever. The program includes additional footage and interviews with the heroic firefighters, rescue workers and the Naudet brothers, providing exclusive insight to their extraordinary firsthand experience of the day’s events. See Full Review

9/11: Day That Changed the World

Documentary 2011 TV-PG 1hr 32m. Looking back at one of America’s greatest tragedies 10 years later, this somber TV documentary focuses on the first 18 hours of the 9/11 disaster.

United 93

Docudrama 2006 R 1hr 50m. Re-creating the harrowing events aboard United Airlines Flight 93 in real time, Paul Greengrass presents the devastating drama of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Man Who Knew

Documentary Frontline 2002. As an FBI agent who specialized in counter-terrorism, John P. O’Neill investigated the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole in Yemen, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the first attack on the World Trade Center. O’Neill came to believe America should kill Osama bin Laden before Al Qaeda launched a devastating attack, but his was often a lonely voice. A controversial figure, O’Neill’s hot pursuit of terrorists and his James Bond style led to nicknames like “Elvis,” “The Count,” and “the Prince of Darkness” inside the buttoned-down world of the FBI. In the end, he was forced out of the job he loved and entered the private sector – as director of security for the World Trade Center. He died there on September 11. His story is the stuff of Hollywood – yet it’s true. O’Neill’s relentless obsession with Al Qaeda, and his efforts to get the government to pay attention to the growing threat posed by Osama bin Laden inform the question on every American’s mind after September 11: What did the government know?

Fahrenheit 9/11

Documentary 2004 R 122 minutes. Michael Moore’s hard-hitting documentary addresses the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, outlining the reasons the United States (and, in turn, thousands of innocent Americans) became a target for hatred and terrorism. The film not only criticizes President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks but also reinforces Moore’s theory that the Bush Administration used the tragic event to push its own political agenda.See Full Review

Imperial Grand Strategy
Noam Chomsky

Lecture 2006 NR 120 minutes. In two lectures and a 45-minute interview, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky — credited as the father of modern linguistics — delivers an unabashed criticism of the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, framing the president’s invasion of Iraq as part of an “imperial grand strategy.” Filmed in 2003, this collection of Chomsky’s personal views also provides an effective overview of the global political climate.

The Hunt for Bin Laden

Documentary 2012 NR. On May 2, 2011 Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 bombings, was killed by American special forces, marking an end to the longest, most expensive manhunt in American history. Witness the 20-year search for the most wanted man on Earth, as counter-terrorism experts in the White House, the CIA, and the FBI divulge their firsthand accounts.

Killing bin Laden

Documentary 2011 TV-14 43m. Experience an intimate account of the Osama bin Laden operation, from crucial intelligence gathering to the burial at sea. Explore the details of how the operation was planned and executed, and see through the eyes of the highly trained SEAL Team 6.

Zero Dark Thirty

Docudrama 2012 R 157 minutes. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this gripping dramatization — seen through the eyes of a tenacious CIA operative — chronicles the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Remote Control War

Documentary 2011 NR 52m. Killer robots sound like the stuff of science fiction, but as an increasingly integral part of today’s technology-driven warfare, remotely controlled military devices are helping to save some human lives … and destroy others.  Forty countries have them, and so might terrorists.

Taxi to the Dark Side

Documentary 2007 R 106 minutes. Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) directs this Best Documentary Oscar winner that uses interviews, news footage and firsthand reports to examine the Bush administration’s policy on torture. The film focuses on the case of an Afghan taxi driver who picked up three passengers and never returned home. Instead, he wound up dead at the Bagram Air Base, killed by injuries inflicted by U.S. soldiers.

Better This World

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 29m. At the 2008 Republican National Convention, friends David McKay and Bradley Crowder went from bandanna-wearing protesters to federal terrorism suspects. This searing documentary aims to separate the rhetoric from the facts in the polarizing case. See Full Review

The Panama Deception

Documentary 1992 NR 91 minutes. Filmmakers Barbara Trent and David Kasper explain the untold truths behind the United States’ 1989 invasion of Panama in this hard-hitting documentary that illuminates the complex relationship between Gen. Manuel Noriega and the U.S. government. Juxtaposing interviews with experts and eyewitnesses with historical media reports, the film shows how the press helped win the American public’s approval despite widespread condemnation abroad. See Full Review

Rebel Without a Pause
Noam Chomsky

Documentary 2003 NR 75 minutes. MIT professor and respected political analyst Noam Chomsky speaks his mind on sober issues including the U.S. war on terrorism, anti-American sentiment, media manipulation, the after-effects of 9/11, and social activism at high-profile gatherings. The film also features interviews with his wife, activists, fans and critics, and examines the truths and myths surrounding the anti-capitalist and longtime advocate of liberty and justice.

John Perkins: Speaking Freely

Lecture 2007 NR. Author and former economic consultant John Perkins takes aim at himself, confessing his shameful role in helping organizations such as World Bank and the IMF drive poor nations into crippling debt while enriching U.S. corporations. His social conscience awakened, Perkins finally got fed up and quit his job. Now, he runs a successful nonprofit group that works to help indigenous peoples protect and strengthen their environments and cultures. See Full Review

South of the Border

Documentary 2009 NR 78 minutes. Eager to investigate how the U.S. media has depicted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, director Oliver Stone journeys south to interview the man himself and speaks with several other South American presidents in the process. This movie, although accused of being propaganda, is propaganda from a point of view that is rarely seen by Americans, and it will make you think about your own country — not just its role in the hemisphere, but in its domestic politics. The definition of Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. This film isn’t that. It’s the opinion of the leaders interviewed, and their view of the United States as they see it. There are well documented facts about the corruption of the U.S. toward South America, the C.I.A. death squads murdering leaders of countries in South America (read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” for a first hand account), and the control the IMF has/had over South American countries. I found “South of the Border” refreshing in its attempts to let us hear what the leaders of these countries think, which is something we never hear from main stream U.S. media. So they don’t think like the American Government. So what? Why is that propaganda? What I learned from this film is that leaders in South America are standing up to the American Government and American Corporations, and doing things their own way, and for the most part, it’s working.

Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 24m. This documentary chronicles half a century of hostile U.S.-Cuba relations. The film highlights decades of assassinations and sabotage at first backed by Washington, then ignored by the very government that launched a “war against terrorism.”

The Bombing of Pan Am 103

Documentary Frontline 1990. Frontline profiles the efforts of the surviving families of the 270 people killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, to seek justice for their loved ones. The families’ crusade focuses attention on issues of airline and airport security, on the lack of coordination between international police and intelligence services, and on whether the US government has the will and means to respond effectively against terrorists and the countries that support them.

Follow Me:
The Yoni Netanyahu Story

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 27m.  Personal letters, family, friends and fellow soldiers pay homage to Yonatan Netanyahu, fallen leader of the 1976 rescue at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport.

Raid on Entebbe

Docudrama 1976 NR 113 mins.  Peter Finch, Charles Bronson and Yaphet Kotto star in this docudrama about the 1976 Israeli commando rescue of Jewish passengers of an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and forced to land at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport. With time running out, Israeli officials devise a daring plan to end the tense standoff. Now, only precise execution will save lives as troops carry out one of the most successful military rescues in history.

One Day in September
(Tag im September, Ein)

Documentary 1999 R 94 minutes. In 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists interrupted the Munich Olympics by taking 11 Israeli athletes hostage. Michael Douglas narrates this Oscar-winning documentary about the siege and subsequent failed rescue attempt. The film features historical footage as well as new interviews with surviving terrorist Jamal Al-Gashey and various officials detailing how the German police botched the rescue operation, leading to the death of all 11 hostages.

21 Hours at Munich

Docudrama 1976 NR 101 minutes. When a group of Arab terrorists clad in tracksuits (known collectively as Black September) take members of Israeli’s 1972 Olympic team hostage, the whole world stands breathless to see if the athletes will ever come home. Academy Award winner William Holden (Network) and Tony Award winner Shirley Knight (“Kennedy’s Children”) co-star in this gripping true-life drama, based on the actual events depicted in a book by Serge Groussard.


Docudrama 2005 R 164 minutes. In this thriller based on actual events, Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, prompting a Mossad agent to track down the assassins in the tragic aftermath.

Sri Lanka: A Terrorist in the Family
Inside the Life of a Female Suicide Bomber

Documentary Frontline / World 2008. Filmmaker Beate Arnestad moved to Sri Lanka in 2002 and saw that an entire generation was growing up surrounded by violence. Her resulting film “My Daughter the Terrorist,” recut and excerpted here, goes inside the special Tamil Tigers’ suicide division and is believed to be the first time any suicide bomber has spoken on film about their training and motivations.

A Mighty Heart

Docudrama 2007 R 108 minutes. While in Pakistan researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is suddenly kidnapped, prompting his pregnant wife to launch a desperate search to find him in this riveting drama.


Docudrama Miniseries 2010 TV-MA 4 discs / 3 episodes. Over the course of two decades, an elusive Venezuelan terrorist pulls off assassination plots, abductions and bombings across Europe and the Middle East and carries out devastating acts of politically motivated violence.

The Weather Underground

Documentary 2002 UR 1hr 30m. This sobering documentary about the Weather Underground chronicles the global trend of revolution. The Weathermen didn’t just march or sit in: They rioted and bombed — not to change the American political scene but rather to destroy it.

The Baader Meinhof Complex
(Der Baader Meinhof Komplex)

Docudrama 2008 R 149 minutes. A radical terrorist group known as the Red Army Faction uses extreme violence to combat what they perceive as a new fascist threat in 1970s Germany. The group’s savagery belies its revolutionary postwar intentions in this fast-paced fact-based drama.

The Fourth Protocol

Drama 1987 100 min. This is a “what-­if” film that assumes the availability of small, portable atomic bombs and has a KGB agent plan the detonation of one in England. The plan is ulti­mately foiled, but it serves as a warning that nuclear terrorism is a very real possibility. Dir. John Mackenzie. With Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Joanna Cassidy. English. Color.

Egypt: Extraordinary Rendition
Investigating the CIA’s Secret Detentions

Documentary Frontline / World 2000. Award-winning journalist Stephen Grey left his job at The Sunday Times in London to investigate one of the darkest sides of the Bush Administration’s war on terror — the CIA’s controversial rendition and interrogation program.


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