Synopsis by Mark Deming
Two men who were part of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network look back on their past with strongly mixed feelings in this documentary from director Laura Poitras. Before the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., made Osama bin Laden and his jihad against the West known to nearly every American, Abu Jandal was one of bin Laden's bodyguards, and he helped recruit Salim Hamdan, who served as bin Laden's personal driver. Jandal was able to escape prosecution and fled to Yemen, where he now makes a living driving a taxi. Jandal still regards America as a sworn enemy, but also views his days in Al-Qaeda with little nostalgia, and he anticipates no hopeful future before him. Jandal also feels deep regret over the fate of Hamdan, who ended up in the United States military prison at Guantanamo Bay and was tried as a terrorist, despite his insistence he was bin Laden's chauffeur and nothing more. Hamdan's family and legal team struggle on his behalf without any illusions about his likely fate, and when Jandal speaks out to the press in his old friend's defense, Hamdan sends him a sharply worded letter asking him to stop. The Oath was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
al-Qaeda, bodyguard, driver, jihad, terrorism