The film charted my attempts to reconnect with Rich, who happened to be my stepbrother, to try to understand the new world he had become a part of.That new world being Islamic terrorism. Now, you knew it wasn’t going to be Buddhism, didn’t you?
Only two weeks before he vanished from the streets of Ealing (I haven’t spoken to or seen him since he was taken into custody), we met for a coffee. We talked about our family, football, and albeit fleetingly, the future. I left the meeting with a smile on my face. Six months later he would plead guilty to terrorism charges, and I began making a second film, My Brother the Terrorist.Oh dear. Were there no clues?
From the moment he converted, Rich was talking about fighting western oppression and dying a martyr.Ummm. OK…
But I never saw Rich as a terrorist, and didn’t see any of the people he surrounded himself with as terrorists either.
What I saw were, and I hate to say it – vulnerable young men – with massive great chips on their shoulders. With their radical new status they felt empowered, superior and perhaps most annoyingly for me, righteous.Ah. I guess there were no openings for them as ‘Guardian’ columnists?
It’s a cliquey club from which everything beyond is viewed as imperfect at best, or evil at worst. And it’s the evils that these guys saturate their perceptions of the world with. Horrific, graphic and brutal images of the suffering, pain and death of Muslims at the hands of the west, played out alongside a powerful narrative of oppression and injustice – a narrative that is difficult to dismantle.I guess the ‘suffering, pain and death of Muslims at the hands of fellow Muslims’ never gets mentioned?
In hindsight, Rich’s arrest and subsequent conviction shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me…Ya think?!?
The inherent problem in attempting to tackle radicalisation is that often it is too late. By the time its signs begin to show, the scene is already set. Extremism of any kind is a symptom of an unhealthy society and, like any illness, in order to eradicate it, we should look to treat its cause.‘Its cause’ being…what? Robb doesn’t specify. Is it because he doesn’t really know?