Eye-Opening Documentary Suicide Bombers: Secrets of the Shaheed Investigates Radical Middle East Terrorist Group's Lethal Tactics

March 23, 1998

Exclusive Cinemax Reel Life Film Debuting April 28


"A believer is not afraid of death; he is prepared through the Koran and the tradition. By sitting next to the graves at night for hours, you prepare yourself for joining the Shaheeds, and when the time comes, you'll join the Messenger of Allah... We are not afraid of death, because death is a privilege." -- Hamas' next Shaheed

They strap high explosives around their waists. Their favorite targets are crowded buses and busy street corners. They can strike anywhere, at any time. They look like ordinary people. But in fact they are living bombs, a push-button away from exploding with maximum deadly impact.

Director Dan Setton's illuminating documentary SUICIDE BOMBERS: SECRETS OF THE SHAHEED tells the true stories of young men enlisted by Hamas and other terrorist organizations to sacrifice themselves by strapping explosives on their bodies -- and detonating themselves among Israeli civilians in crowded public places. Featuring revealing interviews of prisoners held inside Israeli and Palestinian jails, plus historical and original footage shot throughout the Middle East, the "CINEMAX Reel Life" presentation debuts TUESDAY, APRIL 28 at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

Other playdate: May 28 (8:30 a.m.).

SUICIDE BOMBERS: SECRETS OF THE SHAHEED is an exploration of the ideological, religious and patriotic motivations that drive young Palestinians to become willing holy martyrs ("Shaheed" in Arabic). The film demonstrates that the shocking phenomenon of modern suicide bombers traces its most recent rebirth to 1992, when Israeli authorities expelled a large number of Palestinian activists to Lebanon. There, certain deportees became influenced by the Hezbollah terrorist group's deadly practices, including the use of cars filled with explosives and detonated by their drivers when they encountered military vehicles on the streets of Beirut.

The film includes underground video shot by actual Hamas members who are seen recruiting young would-be Shaheeds. The group's use of video extends to first-person testaments made by the recruits -- tapes that will later be shown to the bomber's family after martyrdom is achieved. The video often serves as a point of no return -- in the form of a taped vow of commitment -- for the Shaheeds.

Among those interviewed in the film are a Shaheed who is serving a 17-year sentence for detonating his explosives, and another suicide bomber, languishing in a Palestinian prison, who says he was promised $6000 for his family.

Can the suicide bombers be stopped from deploying this ghastly brand of terrorism? The jihad has its opponents inside the Palestinian community -- many moderates believe it works against the national interest -- but the Hamas extremists continue to preach their version of patriotism among the desperate and the poor. And while security forces have infiltrated the ranks of the Shaheed and made some progress in identifying bombers and targets, the nature of suicide bombing makes it very difficult to prevent.

SET Productions presents a film by Dan Setton; written and directed by Dan Setton; executive producer, Daniel Paran; narrator, Bob Peck.

Debuting in 1995, the "CINEMAX Reel Life" series showcases distinctive documentaries on a wide variety of subjects. This eclectic series of original documentaries has attracted critical praise, as well as prestigious awards. "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien" received the 1997 Academy Award(r) for Documentary Short Subject. "Jupiter's Wife" has been honored with a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and a News and Documentary Emmy,(r) while "The Selling of Innocents" also received a News and Documentary Emmy.(r) "The Dying Rooms" also received a News and Documentary Emmy,(r) as well as a George Foster Peabody Award, a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award and a CableACE Award.

At the 1997 CableACE Awards, four "CINEMAX Reel Life" documentaries were honored, including "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien," "Calling the Ghosts," "The Selling of Innocents" and "Wonderland."

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