Presented with the kind permission of Kevin Toolis, Many Rivers Films

Featuring Robert Baer (Case officer in the Directorate of Operations for the CIA from 1976 to 1997)
Produced & directed by David Batty and Kevin Toolis

In this fascinating award-winning documentary, ex-CIA agent Bob Baer traces suicide bombing from its origins on the southern battlefields of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war to the suicidal car bombers of the Lebanon, to the random terror of Jerusalem’s human bomb bus war, and on to the bloody carnage of the July 7th Underground bombings in London.

With extraordinary footage of actual suicide bomb attacks, and riveting interviews with failed suicide bombers and their families, The Cult of the Suicide Bomber is the definitive documentary history of the rise of an enemy against whom there is no real defence.

Cult of the Suicide Bomber has been broadcast all over the world and has been nominated for an Emmy and the prestigious British Grierson documentary award.

Cult of the Suicide Bomber was theatrically released in New York …

Child Hamas militant

… Presented by former CIA spy, Robert Baer, who returns to a former theatre of operations, the Middle East, to trace the origins of the modern day bomber.
There is no good news here for the fearful and uncertain in the West, but Baer does present a clear landscape of where and how the “pathological virus” has thrived and from whence its notions of honour and glory emerged.

The first film starts with the fascinating story of the world’s first suicide bomber, who arose in the Iran-Iraq war and is now a hero in Iran.

Hossein Fahmideh was a tender 13-year-old in 1980, when he threw himself under an Iraqi tank and blew up himself and the tank’s occupants. His highly decorated grave is in the graveyard of martyrs just outside Tehran, which Baer visits. “Like the city of the dead” he says.

Baer points out that the suicide of such martyrs was different from today’s in that it was a battlefield strategy in an often gruesome trench war. Those Iranians who knowingly killed themselves would have done so in conditions where death or serious injury was a likelihood anyway, and for a cause around which an entire nation was rallying.

That seems more comparable to the Kamikaze pilots of World War II than to Al-Qaeda style attacks today, where a bunch of middle-class students in Hamburg or in Leeds, who were not part of any war and who had everything to live for, spent months plotting their own suicides, planning spectacular attacks on Western targets such as on September 11 in New York and in London last July.