Television

NGC, Discovery take an in-depth look at terrorism next month

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MUMBAI: It now seems almost impossible to imagine a world without the threat of terrorism. Terrorist groups and their motives have become a cause of tension in many countries. Infotainment channels Discovery and National Geographic will both air shows tackling the theme of terror next month. It is timely as next month marks the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

There is also a certain amount of similarity in their terror content. Both channels will show episodes that look at the psychology of the London bombers for instance. Both also look at the Moscow siege when Chechen rebels invaded an auditorium in Moscow as well as the Madrid train bombings which showed the world that Islamic fundamentalism had found a new target.

Let's start with what Discovery has on its plate. The channel will air the series Terror Strikes from 1-11 September at 9 pm. The show will bring to viewers the devastating effects of terrorism. Viewers will discover the truth behind suicide bombers, murders, sieges and nerve agent attacks. The first episode is called 7/7 Bombers - A Psychological Investigation. It looks at the minds of the London terrorist attackers who planted explosives in the metro rail last year.

The show reveals the fact terrorists are psychologically very different from serial killers. One can be normal and still do terrible things. The attackers were all second generation immigrants. So they might be confused about their identity. The attackers were also social creatures who were close to each other. So even if one member did not completely agree with the plan he still went along with it.

Another episode Munich: The Real Assassins uncovers the truth about the Israeli government's sponsored revenge plan to track down those responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Moscow Siege is a forensic examination of this siege that was handled in 2002. Chechen rebels took an auditorium holding a play hostage. The siege led to 171 deaths and 922 hostages.

Fittingly enough the last two episodes look at 9/11.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of those events.

One episode is called The Flight that Fought Back. This recreates the fatal flight of United 936 when brave Americans rose and fought their attackers. While the hijackers tried to act as though this was a routine hijacking some passengers came to know about the two planes that rammed into the twin towers. The efforts of the passengers on Flight 93 ensured that the plane simply crashed into the ground and that it did not reach its intended target. Another episode is called Last Hour of Flight 11. This follows the hour that starts at 7:46 am and ends with Flight 11 hitting the twin tower.

NGC meanwhile kicks off Nat Geo Investigates Terrorism from 11 September to 22 September at 10 pm. So viewers can enjoy and learn from a combined three weeks of terror themed programming on both channels. The ten-part series aims to peel away the layers and reveal the inside story of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the world - the people, the planning, the use of technology to give viewers a closer understanding of the evolving face of a new global power - terrorists.

Through this series NGC aims to make viewers more aware and inspire the spirit of 'India - Fight Back'. Speaking about the series NGC India senior VP programming Joy Bhattacharjya said, "Its world war three and each one of us are on the frontline. To defeat them first we must understand them and that's what our series, 'Nat Geo Investigates: Terrorism' focuses on. The series covers various acts of terrorism that shook the world and tells the story from the perspective of people on the inside.

Through this series we want to make our viewers rethink the motives of these terrorists and understand the machinations of their minds. Our message through this series is that India must fight back by being more alert, aware and responsible."

Intertwining real footage, interviews of survivors and a first-hand account from a potential suicide bomber, Nat Geo Investigates: Terrorism provides an in-depth look at global terrorism today. The series features a special four-part mini-series called 'Inside 9/11' marking five years of the tragedy and also includes episodes like Bio Terror Alert, Suicide Web, Hostage TV and Al Qaeda Calling which showcase the sophisticated techniques adopted by terrorist organisations. The series also showcases a first ever feature programme on the Kandahar episode, 'IC 814 Hijack', which brought what was till then seen as an international phenomenon to our doorsteps - terrorism!

The first episode is called Bin Laden's Spy In America. The two hour special will showcase how Mohammad survived more than 14 years as Al Qaeda's chief mole inside the U.S. How he coordinated the movements of Bin Laden in and out of Afghanistan and how he helped plan the terrorist operation in Somalia.

Inside 9/11 meanwhile follows the footsteps of terrorists as they formulated their plans, infiltrated the most powerful nation and executed an act of terror that changed the face of the world. Inside 9/11 is the story of individual lives touched by tragedy and of a nation that was forced to move in a few hours from delusions of invulnerability to belated vigilance. This four-part miniseries features Osama Rising (12 September at 10 pm), Countdown to Terror (13 September at 10 pm), Zero Hour (14 September 14 at 10 pm) and End Game (15 September at 10 pm).

Another episode is called IC 814 Hijack. Through recreations, interviews with hostages, government negotiators and intelligence officials, IC 814 Hijack relives the traumatic and politically explosive set of events that unfolded on ground and in air. Hostage TV meanwhile explores the inside world of hostages - taking in an age of mass media and modern technology and seeks to illuminate the evolving targets, tactics and impact of terrorism. As is the case with a previously mentioned Discovery special NGC's film investigates the harrowing story of the Moscow theatre siege.

Suicide Web uses the London attacks as a focal point while looking at the motivations of suicide bombers, the role of religion in their recruitment and how they have become one of the most dangerous terrorist threats facing the world.

Al Qaeda Calling looks in detail at the Madrid train bombings of March 2004 during which 10 explosive devices were triggered by mobile phones on four trains killing 191 commuters, only four days before the general election.

This episode will air on Thursday, 21 September at 10 pm.

To put the terror threat into perspective Discovery held a press conference this morning. Institute of conflict Management founding member and former director Dr. Ajay Sahni spoke about the threat of terrorism. He noted that the series is important as it comes at a time when terrorism and its global networks are taking centrestage but our understanding of it lags behind its evolution.

He regretted the fact that a lack of clarity and political opportunism has hampered an effective counter terrorism response both in India and abroad. He noted that India does not have a counter terrorism policy. India he says first has to fight terrorism at home and then look for co-operation from abroad.

He added that today there is a lot of focus on Islamic terrorism as it affects the US which leads global discourse. However, it is important to stay unbiased as a range of ideologies use terrorism. Radical Islam, he noted, is only a part of the context in which terrorism occurs.

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