FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels to Syria’s Idlib province and becomes the first Western journalist to interview one of the most wanted men in the world: Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, designated a terrorist by the U.S., whose Islamist group is the dominant force in Syria’s last opposition stronghold.
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Jolani’s group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and its earlier incarnations stand accused of human rights violations — including indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, torture and arbitrary arrests of civilians — and much of his life has been a roadmap of Islamist militancy in Iraq and Syria. But Jolani now says that he is seeking a new relationship with the West. In “The Jihadist,” Smith investigates Jolani’s rebranding efforts, and tracks down and interviews his critics and victims.
The documentary examines the fight over the future of Idlib, Jolani’s emergence as a leading Islamist militant, and his efforts — despite his history with Al Qaeda and allegations of human rights abuses — to change his image into that of a viable leader who is not a danger to the United States and Europe.
“The Jihadist” is produced, written and directed by Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria, with Smith as correspondent, and co-produced by Brian Funck and Scott Anger.
For more reporting in connection with this investigation, visit FRONTLINE’s website:
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