Nine years after 9/11, it’s striking how little we know about its perpetrators and their culture. For a slice of that world and its maddeningly complex implications, watch The Oath , a new documentary that follows the stories of two ex–Al Qaeda operatives.
The film tells the story of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s personal driver, captured and detained at Guantánamo since 2002. We see nothing of Hamdan, but his narrative, culminating in the first military tribunal at Guantánamo, is humanized by the story of his brother-in-law, the charismatic if unsettling Abu Jandal. Jandal was bin Laden’s bodyguard until 2000, and is now a taxi driver, a father and a teacher of Muslim boys. Both Hamdan’s and Jandal’s situations are ambiguous—should they be free given their past actions and present ambitions?—and stand for the film’s most powerful theme: In the modern struggle against terrorism, there are seldom any clear answers, if there are any answers at all.
This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.