Road to Martyrdom

2007, Crime  -  52 min Leave a Comment
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Road to Martyrdom traces the transformation of one young Englishman from seemingly average guy with a positive reputation to his role as one of the first Western suicide bombers. Asking what it takes to drive one to take their own life and the lives of others in such a violent display, this documentary explores religious fanaticism and the promise of eternal paradise in motivating modern martyrs.

In April of 2003, an Israeli bar called Mike's Place fell victim to what was believed to be a Palestinian terrorist act; however, the English language Quran and British passports deliberately left on the scene betrayed a more surprising truth about the perpetrators, later identified as Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif. While Hanif perished in the explosion, Sharif's bomb failed to detonate. He fled the scene but his dead body later washed ashore, raising questions as to whether he was murdered for not finishing the job, perhaps by Hamas. Hanif and Sharif's family members would stand trial in their place, facing charges of failing to alert authorities of a potential attack and even going so far as to accuse one family member of instigating the attack.

Omar's path to religious fanaticism did not begin until he reached University, where he became involved in a campus prayer group. It was in this group that he met the woman who would soon become his wife in a marriage that came as a surprise to his parents. Dropping out of college shortly after being wed, Sharif began attending London's notorious Finsbury Park Mosque where he was sucked in by passionate speakers and fell influence to the views of religious zealots.

Sharif's radicalization grew as his devotion to militant Islam intensified. Believing strongly that Allah expected great sacrifice and that the Jews of Israel were enemies to be eradicated in the name of his god, Sharif eventually paired with Hanif and traveled to Gaza to launch their attack on Mike's Place.

A biographical overview that serves as a cautionary tale of one man's descent into the depths of religious extremism, Road to Martyrdom is a revelatory and chilling look at fundamentalist devotion.