By Laura Urbani
Jan. 24, 2005
Director Daniel Percival wants to scare people. How else can one explain his most recent projects?
The new year began with FX's "Smallpox," Percival's vision of a terrorist obtaining and releasing the smallpox virus to devastating effect. Tonight, viewers will see what happens after terrorists release a dirty bomb that spreads radiation throughout central London.
Percival does not dwell on doomsday scenarios. He prefers to offer the "what if" as a warning for people, specifically governments, to prepare. Percival bases his drama on real comments by MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller, who stated last year "it is only a matter of time before a crude version of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack is launched on a western city."
Percival's "Smallpox" relied on a documentary style that made the movie seem incredibly real. "Dirty War" doesn't go so far as to pretend that it is a documentary. However, the hand-held cameras and close-ups make it seem like viewers are spying on real conversations. Percival prefers using little-known actors who look like government officials or middle-class mothers.
"Dirty War" offers a quick primer on the works of a terrorist organization. Detective Constable Sameena Habibullah (Koel Purie) joins Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist unit. Colleague Mike Drummer (Martin Savage) quickly instructs Habibullah on the intricacies of terrorist cells. There are logistics cells, which are usually embedded nationals. Reconnaissance cells are foreigners who scout locations. Attack cells are foreigners, brought in at the last moment to make the attack. The cells no nothing of each other. Each cell reports to one man, the agent who manages the entire operation. That makes detecting a terrorist cell incredibly hard.
"Dirty War" also explores the complexities facing governments. Officials debate how much information should be released to the public before panic ensues and how can any security force be prepared for every possibility.
"Unfortunately we live in difficult times and must be prepared for every possibility," says Nicola Painswick (Helen Schlesinger), the new minister for London. Painswick finds herself in an difficult position when she is ordered to inform the public and other government panels that London is prepared for any attack. But she knows, from the front-line officers, that the city isn't close to being able to handle a large-scale attack.
Firefighter Murray Corrigan (Alastair Galbraith) leads his crew on the front line of defense. He is angered by Painswick's optimistic reports. When she maintains that information can not be divulged due to national security, Corrigan responds, "What a(n) ... excuse for incompetence."
"Dirty War" focuses more on political battles and events than on personal stories. The only emotional storyline is the one between Corrigan and his wife, Liz (Louise Delamere), who works at a local hospital.
While scenes follow the government's attempts to rehearse disaster scenarios, the terrorists move into a safe house and begin building their bombs. The terrorists are portrayed as normal men, one even has a wife and four-year-old son. They live in modest houses and wear regular clothing. They do not seem the type to plan a city's destruction.
The bomb's detonation is brief, but the following scenes are eerily familiar. People stumble down streets, trying to escape the pervading dust and smoke. The scenes look too much like the events in New York City on 9/11.
There is also a scene that shows full frontal nudity of women. People wait in line for decontamination showers. They are ordered to strip and are pushed through the shower. One may question why the nudity was necessary, although it is an uncomfortable scene that is probably what the director was trying to convey.
"Dirty War" is an efficient movie, airing at approximately 90 minutes. In that short time, Percival will frighten and inform viewers.
Perhaps the most chilling scene comes at the end. Habibullah and Drummer interrogate bombing mastermind Abu Abassi (William El Gardi). When they inform him that Pakistani police have arrested his wife and sent his son to an orphanage, Abassi coldly says adversity will make him strong for Allah.
"We expect your retaliation," says Abassi. "It is what unites us and divides you."
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Ed. NOTE: I watched this documentary-style presentation and it was well worth it to gain clarity into the importance of Homeland security efforts to control our borders. It also gives us a glimpse of how fragile our precious freedom is. The potential damage to a major city from such a bombing would send ripples around the world, effectively damaging the delicate economic balance. Not a pretty picture, but one that must be at least considered. Here is sample :60 closing clip: watch :60 clip "...Thousands of businesses in the contaminated zone (3.5 miles square) have been forced to close. Millions in pensions, savings and trust funds may never be recovered. London house prices continue to plummet. Analysts warn that the full cost of the bombing is impossible to calculate..."
1-25-05 -- Plane Forced to Land; Dirty Bomb Link Investigated By: Walker Robinson ... Department of Homeland Security officials forced a small plane carrying four apparently illegal Chinese immigrants and a pilot identified as a Mexican national to land at an airport in San Antonio Monday night, officials said today. The immigrants were being held at Stinson Airfield shortly after federal agents forced their plane down. Authorities are trying to determine if the four pasengers on board the Cessna 172-P, two men and two women, are linked to a report that several Chinese nationals were attempting to set off a 'dirty bomb' in the Boston area.
1-25-05 -- UK 'dirty bomb' trio deny plot -LONDON: Three men arrested in connection with an alleged "dirty bomb" plot in Britain last year denied involvement yesterday via a video-link from jail. They were arrested in September 2004, following an investigation by the News of the World newspaper which alleged they were planning an explosion that would spread radiation. Speaking from Belmarsh maximum security prison, southeast of the capital, the three - Roque Fernandes, 43, Abdurahman Kanyare, 53, and Dominic Agnello Martins, 44 - all denied two charges of conspiring to fund and possess an article for terrorism.
1-24-05 -- Al Qaeda's economic war against the United States -IAGS Energy Security - USA ... Other Muslim countries contemplate using the gold dinar, a new gold-backed currency to be used in transactions among 57 Muslim states. ...
What We Learn About Radiation Threats from Movies—Fact or Fiction -CDC ... Recently the writers of fictional film and television programs and movies have chosen threats from radiation as the central theme of their story lines. HBO’s movie, Dirty War, screened on January 24, 2005, is a recent example of this type of terrorism story. Telling the story of a dirty bomb in film or on television creates challenges for the writers and for audiences. Because of the immediacy of the film medium, scientific and medical facts have to be dramatized, leaving the audience with some very real misconceptions and questions about the type of threat posed by a dirty bomb.
Fact Sheet on Dirty Bombs -NRC Background ... In order to better inform the public on what a dirty bomb is and what terrorists might intend to try to accomplish in setting off such a weapon, the following information is provided. Given the scores of exercises–federal, state and local–being staged to assure that all emergency response organizations are properly equipped, trained and exercised to respond to terrorist chemical, biological or radiological attack, we believe members of the public, as well as news organizations, will value some concise, straightforward information.
Dirty Bomb homepage -PBS Preparing for Terrorism ... There are any number of reasons why we should be worried about the dirty bomb menace, says nuclear terrorism expert Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Clinton. Among them: Radioactive substances are everywhere; anyone can build a dirty bomb; and Al Qaeda has sought to make or acquire one. There is also one reason why we shouldn't be so worried, Allison says, and that's because a far more threatening sword of Damocles hangs over our heads: a potential terrorist attack with a nuclear bomb. To better grasp the scope of these very different threats, NOVA interviewed Allison in his office at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard Square, across the Charles River from Boston.
Related Movie Reviews:
1-24-05 -- In This Horror Scenario, Facts Serve as Well as Fear -NYT By NED MARTEL, New York Times ... Guess what happens in "Dirty War"? The title gives away the explosive climax of this fictional tick-tock about the detonation of a radioactive device in London. Though you might immediately grasp the concept of a dirty bomb, this harrowing film provides the detail. The film becomes part thriller, part public-service announcement as it sees the event through the perspectives of politicians, first-responders, terrorists and, of course, victims. The death toll from this fictional attack is tallied at 375, with a forecast of thousands more as tumors metastasize over the years. A large ground-zero zone must wait 30 years before the radiation diminishes to a livable level. In the meantime, barbed wire and makeshift memorials enclose an area where abandoned cars are left askew on Liverpool Street and stray papers blow on irradiated breezes.
1-24-05 -- 'Dirty War' deals with present dangers -Globe Or: how we learned to keep worrying and fear a new kind of bomb By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff ... The movie has a long lead-up to the inevitable explosion, to highlight the inadequacies of the local infrastructure -- most obviously during a practice drill. For example, the protective orange suits aren't sufficient, seriously hindering and endangering the firemen who would arrive first at a bomb site. But the minister for London (played with deceptive sympathy by Helen Schlesinger) nonetheless pronounces the drill a success, to build public confidence. She's more concerned with the perception of safety than safety itself. While the British bureaucracy stumbles on its own heels, we see members of terrorist cells contacting one another -- moving the contaminated material into the city, assembling the bombs, and finally setting them off. Their chains of command appear to work more efficiently than the government's. The irony, in this case, is lethal.
FREE GUIDE TO COUNTER-TERRORISM -- 1-11-05 -- A recent Red Cross survey states 2/3 of Americans have done nothing to prepare for another terrorist attack or other emergency, therefore, Swiss America has released a new educational DVD and CD, featuring Pat Boone entitled, "A Citizen's Guide to Counter Terrorism," which exposes Islamic "Jihad" and gives preparedness basics, including the "financial terrorism" threat.
SPECIAL PRE-RELEASE BOOK OFFER
How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians
By Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.
With the reconstruction of Iraq under way and the distraction of the U.S. presidential election behind us, focus will once again turn to a gathering threat—The Islamic Republic of Iran.
A charter member of the "axis of evil," this rogue terrorist state and the mullahs who govern it are on a collision course with American and European governments that seek to end its development of nuclear weapons. The influence of Iran cannot be discounted, however, because it has perfected the art of oil price manipulation in order to fund its nuclear endeavors, terrorist activities, and strategic contributions to key U.S. politicians who, in turn, work diligently at normalizing diplomatic and trade relations between the two nations.
In "Atomic Iran," Jerome Corsi, co-author of the best-selling "Unfit for Command," uncovers the true intentions and practices of the Iranian regime and gives light to the aid and comfort being supplied by some key U.S. politicians.
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