Television

Zee Studio follows 'The Path to 9/11' with five hour miniseries

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MUMBAI: To acknowledge the fifth anniversary of the
9/11 events Zee Studio will air the five hour miniseries The Path to 9/11 on 10 September from 9-12 pm and on 11 September from 9-11 pm. In the US the show will air on ABC on the same days.

The miniseries is based on the 9/11 commission report.
The report documents the trail from the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 to 9/11 in 2001. The miniseries has been shot in Toronto, New York, Washington and Morocco.

The show takes viewers inside the world of the FBI, CIA, White House and into the world of the likes of Dick Cheney, CIA director George Tenet played by Dan Lauria, Condeleeza Rice, Madeleine Albright. Also playing an important role is veteran actor Harvey Keitel as FBI agent John O ' Neill who spent years chasing Bin Laden.

The miniseries starts on 11 September 2001 showing teams of hijackers boarding four American airliners.

Using mobile phones they keep in touch with each other for a progress update prior to the hijacking. The miniseries then goes back to 1993. On a similarly ordinary day, New York was shocked by a deadly bombing at the World Trade Center. The miniseries reveals the fact that the bombing could have been stopped. Unfortunately the authorities did not take seriously the warning of an informant Emad Salem.

"They did not think you'll were clever enough to do something like this" he is told by CIA analyst Patricia Carver played by Amy Madigan. In fact Salem was dropped by the agency after asking for $500 a week only to be reinstated after the bombing. Madigan's character keeps asking her bosses to take stronger action against terrorism. America was very complacent regardless of whether the Republicans or the democrats were in power. In that and other respects the miniseries tries to be fair.

Later on it also shows how the Clinton administration messed up capturing Bin Laden and not just once. For instance later on in the miniseries when the CIA surrounds Bin Laden's house in Afghanistan they are unable to get authorisation to capture him for fear of a political repercussion should civilians get harmed. Political decorum it would seem is an ally of terrorism. Another strong point is that a lot of the sequences like the bombing have visual panache. The viewer gets disoriented at such moments as he/she should be.

It is also unfortunate that there seemed to be perhaps too much awareness of jurisdiction which could prevent initiative. For instance when two NYPD officers take evidence from the World Trade center site in 1993 as they feel that it will damaged by rubble they are fired by their superior as it is then FBI's case. Also the democrats apparently put up a wall that prevented the agencies from sharing information with each other. How is one supposed to tackle a threat if the left hand does not know what the right one is doing?

A big plus is that the miniseries also focusses for a little bit at least on the terrorists. That way the viewer is able to see two sides of a coin. In fact the terrorists view the 1993 bombing as a failure. The aim at that time was to bring down the twin towers which was what they managed to do in 2001. In a telling scene in a nightclub they brag about how what they are doing will force America to change its policies. One member talks about having invented a small bomb that can be pieced together on a plane and then detonated using a Casio watch.

Actor Nabile Elouahbi registers strongly as Ramzi Yousef who masterminded the 1993 bombing. Sometime later he had tested a small bomb on a plane that killed a passenger and nearly brought the plane down.

In Manila there is a fire at his lab and the efforts of an alert policewoman lead to the discovery of his laptop, which show that he had planned to take terror to another level by using a dozen airliners in the US. He also planned to assasinate Clinton when he visied philipines by using a truck. The American officials look on in disbelief when they learn of this. It seems incompreghensible that anyone would have the audacity to plan such a complex attack.

Yousef is eventually brought down in Pakistan after managing to evade the Philippines authorities and by doing that Keitel's character is put on Bin Laden' trail. Yousef was in fact told that Bin Laden was a wealthy man who could provide finance.

It is to the credit of actors like Elouahbi that the depiction of terrorists is not one dimentional. The show also earns points for being as realistic as possible. This writer saw the first hour of the show and it should be more intriguing and complex as it goes along. It should be well worth watching for those who want to know not just about how 9/11 happened but also why and the circumstances around it.

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