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My Trip to Al-Qaeda (2010)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 21 April 2010 (USA)
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Chronicles fundamentalist Islam's rise to power and explores Wright's struggle to maintain his objectivity as a journalist writing about Islamic terror.


Alex Gibney


Lawrence Wright (based on the play by)



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Credited cast:
Lawrence Wright Lawrence Wright ... Himself


Chronicles fundamentalist Islam's rise to power and explores Wright's struggle to maintain his objectivity as a journalist writing about Islamic terror.

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Not Rated






Release Date:

21 April 2010 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Jigsaw Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Color (HD)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1 / (high definition)
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User Reviews

Good Documentary
20 September 2010 | by eastbergholt2002See all my reviews

Lawrence Wright's film is fascinating and thought provoking. I read Wright's book The Looming Tower in 2006 and it was the first time I felt I had a clear understanding what the war with Al Qaeda was all about. In this film, Wright explores similar territory and provides an explanation of the philosophy of groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Both share a view of the world that is repugnant and alien to our liberal western sensibilities. We value human life, scientific progress and equality for women and they don't. Wright explains that the Islamic world resents the material and military success of the West. The rise of terrorism has been a way for some extremists to obtain payback for the years of humiliation.

While the West has mostly rejected religious fanaticism, Wright shows that parts of the Islamic world are now embracing it. Many regard their failure to compete with the West as a punishment from God. Because Muslims have rejected the true path they need to embrace fundamentalism to achieve God's forgiveness. They therefore reject modernity and oppose Arab leaders like Anwer Sadat who favor secularism. Al Qaeda wants to eliminate what it sees as our corrosive influence in the Middle East. However it is not clear why God isn't punishing us, the infidels for our blasphemous ways. We don't enforce the punishments listed in the Old Testament like killing anyone who works on the Sabbath, so it's hard for us to understand why the stoning of women is making a comeback in countries like Iran or why this is something that God requires.

Wright argues that U.S. policies towards the Muslim world after 9/11 have played into bin Laden's hands. Policy makers failed to understand that bin Laden was happy to weaken the U.S. by drawing it into long draining wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nightmare scenario is for the Islamists capture the Middle East or they start an ongoing insurgency in the West. Watching this program you feel reasonably confident this won't happen, mainly because you quickly realize how crazy their beliefs are. Their views have no appeal for us and it's hard to believe that rational Muslims really want what Al Qaeda is selling. Even their interpretation of Islam seems un-Islamic.

The West and the Islamists have incompatible views on the world so it seems that there will always be conflict. Wright seems to understand this strange world. This is a fascinating film.

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