In-laws in ji­had

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

The Oath, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, in English and Ara­bic with sub­ti­tles, 96 min­utes, The Screen, 3 chiles

II pledge to God to as­sist and sup­port, re­gard­less of my own self-in­ter­est or rea­son­ing, re­gard­less of my own well-be­ing, and not to chal­lenge the lead­er­ship.

— al-Qaida loy­alty oath What does evil look like? Is it the face of Osama bin Laden, scowl­ing be­neath a scrag­gly beard, preach­ing holy war against the West? Is it the face of Don­ald Rums­feld, square-jawed and cocky, squint­ing be­hind moon-shaped glasses, preach­ing pre­emp­tive shock and awe?

It prob­a­bly doesn’t look much like the face of Salim Ham­dan, Osama’s for­mer driver, who was in­car­cer­ated in iso­la­tion in Guan­tá­namo. He waited seven years for a trial, which fi­nally came about when his lawyers won the land­mark Supreme Court vic­tory in Ham­dan v. Rums­feld, es­tab­lish­ing that the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s mil­i­tary com­mis­sions set up to try Guan­tá­namo de­tainees over­reached and vi­o­lated U.S. mil­i­tary law and the Geneva Con­ven­tions. In Laura Poitras’ doc­u­men­tary The Oath, we first see Ham­dan’s face cov­ered with a hood, in grainy black-and-white footage of his ini­tial in­ter­ro­ga­tion af­ter his cap­ture in Afghanistan in Novem­ber 2001.

Evil may not look much like the face of Abu Jan­dal, Ham­dan’s broth­erin-law, a body­guard for Osama in the late 1990s and now a taxi driver in Ye­men’s cap­i­tal city, Sana’a. We first see him ask­ing his adorable lit­tle son Hamid what he wants to be when he grows up. “A ji­hadist,” says the boy with a gap­toothed smile. Evil, of course, doesn’t look like much of any­thing. It is cloaked in ba­nal­ity, to use the term coined by Han­nah Arendt. So Osama is evil to

Af­ter Osama: Abu Jan­dal

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