Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, February 8: HOMEGROWN: THE COUNTER-TERROR DILEMMA
Greg Barker’s exploration of the perceived threat of domestic terrorism makes its debut on the venerable premium cable network.
Once again working with author Peter Bergen after their previous collaboration, MANHUNT, Barker bases this provocative current project on Bergen’s upcoming book UNITED STATES OF JIHAD. Through interviews with both counter-terrorism experts and the family members of convicted terrorists or would-be terrorists, the film investigates the realities and myths of homegrown Islamic extremism in the wake of September 11 and the wars that have followed in the past decade and a half. Muslim Americans speak candidly about the prejudice and fear they regularly face, compounded when one of their own relatives faces terrorism charges, at times based on what the family views as only thought crimes rather than physical acts. While experts defend these prosecutions, seeing clear links between the conspiracy charges leveled against so-called radicalized jihadists and the commission of violent, deadly acts, they curiously also note that despite its ability to engender public hysteria, the actual threat of domestic terrorism is grossly overstated. As a result, the meeting, late in the film, between family members ruing the fate of their convicted relative and a high-level counter-terrorism official, takes on a strange, almost contradictory sense – if the threat is more perceived than real, has the federal government shown extraordinary, unwarranted zeal in prosecuting these cases of nascent- or proto-terrorist inklings, or is a policy of being better safe than sorry, despite the impact on basic American freedoms and values, still somehow justified?