Siege in the Sahara is a dramatic reconstruction of the terrorist attack on a gas plant in Algeria that involved two Canadian jihadists and left 40 hostages dead.  Over four days, the hostage-taking transfixed the world, ending when Algerian Special Forces stormed the site and killed or captured all of the Al Qaeda operatives, including the two Canadians.  The film raises many important questions about why so many hostages died in the attack.

Siege in the Sahara goes behind the news headlines to reconstruct the events of the four-day siege in January 2013, revealing in terrifying detail how it all unfolded. Compelling first-person interviews with British and American survivors combine with dramatic reconstructions of gun battles, personal encounters with the terrorists and daring tales of escape and bravery.  Personal photos, telephone recordings and emails help re-create the rapidly unfolding events.

Some of the key questions raised in the documentary are:  How did a convoy of dozens of terrorists manage to travel undetected across hundreds of kilometers of desert and gain control of one of Algeria’s most valuable gas facilities? Who was ultimately responsible for the safety of its workers? And did the Algerian government act appropriately when it refused to negotiate with the hostage-takers and sent in its army without notifying foreign governments?

As the film makes clear, many hostages died in the crossfire between the terrorists and the Algerian army.  “I didn’t know who to be more afraid of,” says British survivor Stephen McFaul. “None of them had any intentions of seeing me home safely.”

Siege in the Sahara also provides key details about the role of one of the two Canadian hostage-takers.  McFaul recounts how 22-year-old Canadian Xristos Katsiroubas acted as an interpreter, speaking directly to his captives about Al Qaeda’s demands.  And he describes in chilling detail Katsiroubas’ attempt to detonate a homemade explosive device in an SUV filled with hostages.

This documentary chronicles the rise of a new and bold brand of Al Qaeda in north Africa, committed to acts of international terror and led by militants like Mokhtar Belmokhtar, mastermind behind the gas plant attack. Belmokhtar, described as the most dangerous man in the Sahara, is now on the FBI’s Most Wanted list with a $5 million bounty for his capture. 

Directed by Bruce Goodison, an award-winning documentary and drama director whose films include Our War, Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill and the Emmy-nominated FLIGHT 93: The Flight that Fought Back. Produced by Nutopia.

Credits (Click to expand)

Narrated By

Kerry Shale

Music By

Jack Ketch

Archive

AL-JAZEERA

ANI MAURITANIAN NEWS AGENCY

AP ARCHIVE

CORBIS

DoD

ENNAHAR

FORCES DZ

FRANCE 24

GETTY IMAGES

A.HAALAND

ITN SOURCE

LOUIZA ANMI ARCHIVE

SAHARA MEDIA AGENCY

TACTICAL AIRSOFT, UTAH

TV2 NORWAY

Drama Director of Photography

Neil Harvey

Jordan Production Designer

Mohammed Halawan

UK Drama Production Designer

Jenny Ray

  

Documentary Directors of Photography

Steve Organ

Sam Allen

Graham Copeland

Eli Gamson

Neville Kidd

Sound Recordists

Tim Camarda

Michael Kranicke

Sean Poe

Chris Syner

Giacomo Verrando

Richard Walters

Billy Young

  

Off Line Editors

Kai Lawrence

Jacob Thomson

Whetham Allpress

Tom Herington

Production Manager

Lindsey Sharp

Head of Production

Josh Wilkins

  

Producer

Adrian Gatton

Executive Producers

Nav Raman

Jane Root

Director

Bruce Goodison

A Nutopia Ltd.

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