Al Arabiya series to show never-seen-before footage of al-Qaeda

Three-part series reveals never-seen-before footage of al-Qaeda’s operations in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent raids and crackdowns on the group

Ismaeel Naar

Published: Updated:

A documentary series set to debut on Dec. 2 on the Al Arabiya News Channel reveals never-seen-before footage of al-Qaeda’s operations in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent raids and crackdowns on the group by authorities.

Over a decade ago al-Qaeda shocked the Gulf peninsula and wider world when it attempted to launch a “bloody revolution” in Saudi Arabia by rigging a series of car bomb attacks.

In 2003 the then security chief Prince Mohammed bin Nayef launched a counter attack that would see a three-year security crackdown on the group, with thousands of its members thrown into prison.

At least 39 foreigners and Saudi nationals were killed and over 160 wounded during the attacks.

More than ten years on, a TV series on the attack is set to be aired by the Al Arabiya News Channel, promising an inside look into al-Qaeda after hours of footage from cameras and mobile phones were recovered and released by Saudi security officials.

Unlimited access

“What makes this series unique is the level of access we had after Saudi security forces helped us. We got footage that was confiscated after the raids that took place,” Saudi War on Terror executive producer Adel AbdulKarim told Al Arabiya News.

“It also helped because these terrorists were obsessed with filming themselves. They filmed their plannings, when they were in their safe houses and when they were on their way to operations. You see everything on tape,” he added.

The Saudi executive producer told the Al Arabiya News Channel that the film was nearly three years in the making, after they gathered more than 1,300 hours of footage, many coming from personal video records, mobile phones and even 8mm films recorded by al-Qaeda members.

“The film has been in the making for nearly three years now. We cut the film into 150 minutes, which constitutes three television hours. While we tried to tell the story from a dramatic narrative, we wanted to tell it from all the angles possible – but even then it’s not enough because the audience is only getting the main headlines of the story,” Abdulkarim said about how much more the footage they acquired reveals.

Understanding the psyche

The film’s director and team of producers hope that their series will help Arab audiences understand the psyche behind the attackers and “prepare them for future possible attacks.”

“ISIS is a continuation of al-Qaeda. But the series portrays the terrorists in the light that they will always be active until the end of our lives – whether in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, France or the United States. The series helps create an understanding of why men take the decision to attack and terrorize innocent people.”

The documentary series, split into three episodes, was produced for the Al Arabiya News Channel by OR Media, a London-based independent production company.

For Western audiences, there is currently a feature-length cut of the film being negotiated for release in the United Kingdom and the U.S., Abdulkarim said.