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The Cult of the Suicide Bomber

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Baer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Disinformation
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FG8BO6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,667 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cult of the Suicide Bomber" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Features Robert Baer, former CIA Agent and the man whose book See No Evil was the basis for the film Syriana, and the man George Clooney’s character in the film is based upon.

Their devastating and deadly actions punctuate the world news almost nightly, yet they remain faceless figures amidst the violence and turmoil that engulf the Middle East. And, whether it’s the C4-laden martyrs of Hezbollah or the car bombing insurgents of Iraq, what could possibly compel a suicide bomber to voluntarily take their own lives, along with those of hundreds of innocent victims? There is perhaps no one better equipped to investigate this terrifying practice than Robert Baer, a decorated, former Middle East CIA Agent and the man George Clooney’s character was based on in the Academy Award®-winning film, Syriana.

Robert Baer returns to his former center of operations, the Middle East, to trace the origins of the modern day bomber. In this poignant documentary, Baer reveals the fascinating story of the world's first suicide bomber, 13-year-old Hossein Fahmideh–who was martyred in the Iran-Iraq war and is now a hero in Iran; and visits his highly decorated grave in the graveyard of martyrs just outside Tehran.


"...engrossing..." -- The New York Times, June 2, 2006

"...remarkable..." -- Village Voice, May 30, 2006

"...remarkable...thoughtful...incisive, controversial..." -- Variety, June 6, 2006

"Dissects the heart of darkness...fascinating... * * * " -- New York Post, June 2, 2006

"Dissects the heart of darkness...fascinating... * * * " -- New York Post, June 2, 2006

...a kick in the gut...striking..." -- The New Yorker, June 5, 2006

Customer Reviews

Being a secular organisation there were also no objections against female suicide bombers.
Manfred Zeichmann
There have been a few documentaries like Death in Gaza, but you can never really understand how bad the situation is until you have seen it with your own eyes.
Some follow-up seemed to be warranted, to indicate how much of this was experience versus a rationale/general polemic.
Douglas B. Moran

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Young on January 19, 2007
Format: DVD
As a researcher interested in terrorism and political violence, I watched this movie to gain a different perspective on the origins of suicide bombing. The documentary has some amazing interviews of both bombers/martyrs and counterinsurgents. How the filmmakers were able to get these people to speak on tape is incredible. This alone made the film worth watching. The movie is chock full of history and facts about how suicide bombing has evolved since its intial use in Iran.

My only complaint relates to the notion that suicide bombing is a "cult" that lacks ideology and is spreading. What the filmmakers learn through their interviews is that the bombings are a tactic used by weak actors to impose costs on the stronger opponent. Robert Pape's book "Dying to Win" makes this point. In addition, Mia Bloom's book, "Dying to Kill" provides an even deeper description of the process involved. I encourage anyone interested in understanding why the tactic of suicide bombing has been replicated in recent conflicts to read these two books. Paradise Now, a drama about a potential suicide bomber, is also worth watching. If the goal is to understand the process so that this tactic of resistance can be countered/eliminated, consulting all of these sources will help you put together a better explanation for why suicide bombing is on the rise.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Douglas B. Moran on August 16, 2008
Format: DVD
If you have been watching broadcast news over the years, there is little that you wouldn't have seen in a equivalent form (other than dramatic pictures of the Bek'aa Valley of Lebanon). If you are new to this, there are numerous valuable segments, but the ordering is driven by chronology rather than an attempt to build understanding. For example, the segment with the interviews with the imprisoned Palestinian bombers (chapter 16) is the first real attempt at explaining the bombers mindset, and should have come much earlier.

The documentary focuses more on an enumeration of the bombers and their attacks, and generally gives too little of the context needed for understanding events.

Many of the interviews are unrevealing - they seem to be the long established "party line" of the interviewee. Getting spontaneity or insights is difficult, but having time to do so is one of the aspects that distinguishes documentaries from news reports.

TECHNICAL: Baer's narration is very flat: he speaks very slowly and carefully. There are too many transition shots of Baer walking or listening (This is routine and acceptable in news broadcasts because they don't have the time to get interesting visuals). The pictures of martyrs and explosions are so many and so dominant that they became tiring, and many seem to be little more than unimaginative visual filler.

INTELLECTUAL MESS: Misleading labeling is an effective tactic in advocacy, but a major impediment to understanding: You fail to ask important questions and block linkages that would lead to insights.

The use of the term "suicide" is derogatory and highly misleading (a point one interviewee makes): It implies that one's own death is the primary motivator for the act.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on November 5, 2006
Format: DVD
Excellent approach to a relevant topic coming out of the middle east. As a westerner the topic of suicide bombings is vague and often viewed as a method of religious extremism. Baer quietly diassects the reasonings behind the suicide missions and what makes them so effective. It's a historical look back at the beginnings all the way to the London attacks of 2005. Effective, chilling, and diabolical reasoning stand behind them. From the perspective of the bombers, its completely rational and logical. Well documented and well presented without speaking down to the audience who just may be learning about suicide bombers. Its as if the viewer is to take over a case load from Mr. Baer.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Manfred Zeichmann on September 11, 2006
Format: DVD
Hosted by former CIA agent Robert BAER (according to the sleeve of the DVD box George CLOONEY`s character in the SYRIANA movie is based upon him)the feature-length documentary THE CULT OF THE SUICIDE BOMBER provides viewers with an in-depth look at the horrifying phenomenon known in the West as "suicide bomber".

After a brief introduction concerning the July 2005 suicide attacks on London subway trains and a bus, which claimed over 50 deaths and hundreds of injured, BAER visits Iran. The concept of matyrdom, which is derived from the Shiite form of Islam is explained. The commander of the Iranian armed forces is interviewed and he states that, "they ( = the Americans) know that no army can stand in the way of martyrdom, so the Americans should know if they try to interfere with Iran they will dig their own graves". BAER details the story of the first known suicide bomber, 13 year old Hossein FAHMIDEH, who in 1980 in the battle of Kerbala during the Iran/Iraq war took explosives and threw himself in front of an advancing Iraqi tank. The explosion destroyed the tank and FAHMIDEH`s comrades, impressed by his act of self-sacrifice, were able to halt the Iraqi attack. (In my view the film makers fail to point out that this anti-tank tactic was also widely used by the Japanese in the later stages of the war in the pacific.) As is shown in the documentary, FAHMIDEH is celebrated as an Iranian hero to this very day.

Following the Israeli intervention in Lebanon in 1982, the concept of suicide bombing was introduced in that country by the Shiite Hezbollah resistance movement. On 11th November 1982 Ahmad QUASSIR drove a car, filled with explosives into the Israeli army HQ at Tyr - 74 Israeli soldiers died in the blast. QUASSIR became the first suicide car bomber.
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