Getting inside the mind of a suicide killer. That’s the aim of Norwegian filmmaker Pål Refsdal with his documentary ‘Dugma’, which means ‘button’ in the Islamists’ dialect, referring to their final mission.
Refsdal, who has worked in conflict areas for more than thirty years, gained unique access to the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, filming the daily life of two so-called “martyrdom seekers” in Syria, as they wait to be deployed.
‘‘First, I hope that it will make people understand that our enemies are human beings, they are not perfect human beings, they have their… they are clumsy sometimes, they do mistakes, they have regrets sometimes, they have dilemnas – that’s one thing. And if you talk about the documentary film world, I hope it will inspire someone else to do something similar, to try to go to the other side and just try to make a film about them,” he explains.
Observing the banal, often darkly amusing rituals of life on the martyrdom “waiting list”, the documentary offers an unprecedented glimpse into the hearts and minds of young jihadis, like British convert, Abu Basir al Britani, who starts to question his convictions after getting married.
‘‘I don’t editorialise, I don’t put a voice-over there, I don’t try to tell people what to think about it,” says Refsdal. “I am just showing the everyday situation of these al Qaeda insurgents.’‘