Abu Jandal was dedicated to the protection of Osama bin Laden and to the reliability of new arrivals to bin Laden's Afghanistan training camp, including many if not all of the 9/11 highjackers. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, Jandal was in a Yemeni prison where he was in dialogue with a state-sponsored religious committee formed to engage with extremist fundamentalists.
After the 9/11 attacks, Jandal identified many of the hijackers to FBI agent Ali Soufan and became a significant source to link the attacks to al Qaeda. He was later freed from custody, and found work as a taxi driver.
For The Oath, Poitras interviewed Jandal, followed him to meetings with Yemeni youths, and joined him in quality time with his young son. She placed a video camera on the dashboard of his taxi to record his observations and encounters with passengers during his work day.
The Oath grants us an extraordinary perspective on al Qaeda's management and leadership. Most importantly, the film introduces us to the human beings who are our enemies and the unfortunate souls who get caught in the undertow of conflict.
Salim Hamdan is the silent protagonist at the heart of the film, represented by a voice-over reading from his letters home while captive in Guantánamo, a grainy video of his first interrogation, a recording taken by ABC's John Miller while Hamdan drove Miller to an interview with bin Laden, and a report from Hamdan's military trial.
The Oath is the second documentary in a trilogy Poitras is developing about post-9/11 America. The first, My Country, My Country, tells the story of the U.S. occupation of Iraq from the perspective of an Iraqi doctor. A planned third film will focus on the 9/11 trials.