Over the past few years, the biggest trend on TV has been towards reality programming - shows ranging from amateur singing competitions to the personal lives of celebrities. The Middle East has also enjoyed a couple of its own versions of reality T.V. including "American Idol" and "Big Brother."
More recently, Iraq's Al-Iraqiya channel began running a reality program called "Terror in the Hands of Justice." The show consists of lengthy confessions by captured insurgents under interrogations by the Iraqi military. The insurgents come from all over the Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. All captured terrorists are asked their name, country of origin, birthday, how they got to Iraq, about their affiliation with terrorist groups, and about their training.
Many of these captured insurgents have common themes to their stories including pointing to Syrian intelligence as being the main source of their support and citing Al-Jazeera as a source of inspiration and motivation for Jihad. The insurgents also provide interesting bits of information on how the terrorist networks they were part of operate in Iraq.
On February 24, Egyptian Mahmoud Hassan, from "the Liberation Army," discussed killing Iraqi National Guard members and getting paid $200 for each person killed. On the same episode, Sudanese fighter Kazem Al-Duma Omar explained how he was in charge of an "Arab squad" of Egyptian and Sudanese, trained by Syrian intelligence, whose mission it was to kill 10 soldiers (either American or Iraqi) at a time.
Syrian intelligence officer Anas Ahmad Al-Issa confessed on Al-Iraqiya on February 23, explaining he was involved in 10 - 15 operations a day that consisted of setting bobby traps, explosions, kidnappings, and assassinations.
The coast city of Ladhqiya in Syria was mentioned by many fighters as their training place. On February 23, Iraqi Shihab Al-Sab'awi described his training course there to Al-Iraqiya. He detailed how Syrian intelligence slaughtered animals to train members of his group how to kill. He also explained that the Syrians paid for their stay in Iraq, including a salary of $1,500 for each member of the squad.
Another Iraqi, Amjad 'Uraibi, confessed about how he met a Syrian who gave him directions on how to get to a 'mujahideen camp' in Damascus run by Syrian intelligence. One of his proudest exploits was when his group captured and executed an Iraqi National Guard unit.
"Hassan The Butcher," otherwise known as Hassan Al-Khafaji, who at one time belonged to Saddam's Fedayeen, confessed on March 9 and told about joining Zarqawi's Al-Tawhid and Al-Jihad Brigade groups. He discussed kidnapping foreigners, slaughtering them, and then dropping their bodies on the side of roads. He detailed being given pills before his mission and getting paid between $100-150 for each one.
Another Iraqi, Talal Ra'ad Sleiman Yasin, confessed on March 9 that he was inspired to jihad "to kill Americans" by his friends who told him about a fatwa from a high ranking Saudi cleric permitting such actions.
Iraqi Ghani Ahmad confessed on March 13 as to how he beheaded a member of the Iraqi National Guard. Similarly on March 24, another Iraqi, Bahaa Nasser, confessed to using a dagger to slaughter Iraqi policeman.
The Iraqi channel Al-Fayhaa, based in the UAE, also has its own confession show. Saudi fighter Basem Saleh Jamil Kassar appeared on January 22 and explained how he was smuggled through Syria, influenced by Al-Jazeera, and arrangements for his Jihad were made in Saudi Arabia. On January 22, Tunisian Walid Al-Masmoudi also explained he was influenced by religious shows on Al-Jazeera.
Muhammad Abd Al-Hadi Muhhamad, a Libyan who confessed to Al-Fayhaa, detailed how he entered Iraq through Syria. He explained that accompanying him on his journey were three Saudis, and they all ended up in Fallujah. He explained that a sheikh in Banghazi issued a fatwa on Jihad in Iraq that inspired him. He claimed 90% of car bombs were the result of the U.S. troops planting them.
On January 14, Iraqi Muayyid Al-Nasseri confessed to Al-Fayhaa, detailing the many armed operations against coalition forces he participated in. He admitted that he was a commander in "The Army of Muhammad," led by 'Izzat Ibrahim, who was Vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein. He also detailed how his group was primarily supported by Iran, and in particular generals and colonels of the Iranian intelligence. He explained he witnessed them giving out to fighters one million dollars and cars filled with weapons.
The confessions mentioned in this article as well as many others added daily, can be view at www.memritv.org
Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute.