IDFA - Dugma - The Button

In this intimate portrait, two jihadists awaiting a suicide mission for the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda talk about themselves and their loved ones.

With undisguised pride, Abu Qaswara, an apparently good-natured man from Mecca, shows off the armored vehicle that he will one day use in a suicide mission. With Allah’s blessing and one press of the button (the dugma of the title), he will dispatch the enemy to hell and himself to paradise. Abu Qaswara has volunteered for Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda. The same goes for the British convert Abu Basir al-Britani, who no longer felt he belonged in his homeland and has now found comradeship and a sense of accomplishment as part of the Syrian jihad. Neither of them knows when his turn will come, but come it will – of that they are sure.

In intimate and sometimes picturesque scenes, they speak affectionately about their loved ones. In the process, they become people made of flesh and blood, rising above the clichéd image of the bloodthirsty jihadist. Abu Qaswara, who can sing beautifully, urges his mother to adopt a more modern outlook, and Abu Basir al-Britani reflects on his new marriage and the possibility of fatherhood.