THE rise of al-Qaeda, and America’s resulting “war on terror”, has been well documented on film. Less known are the domestic efforts of Arab countries to stem jihadism. “Path of Blood”, a documentary released on July 13th in Britain and America, is made up largely of footage gathered by Saudi Arabian security forces from al-Qaeda cells. It depicts a grisly cat-and-mouse game between 2003 and 2009. Much of the footage was shot by the terrorists themselves, and it reveals the unsettling humanity of those who take other’s lives.
The film opens with a young man called Abdulaziz looking nervously into a camera, trying to record a message of jihad before he carries out a suicide-bomb attack. But he can’t do it. He stumbles over his words, gets chided by those off camera, reaches for a coffee and jokingly complains about being given a dirty cup. He comes across as goofy and naive.