Home > International > The Power of Nightmares (BBC Documentary)

The Power of Nightmares (BBC Documentary)

The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis.

The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservativemovement in the United States and the radical Islamistmovement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.

Part 1: Baby it’s cold outside

The first part of the series explains the origin ofIslamism and Neo-Conservatism.


Part 2: The Phantom Victory

In the second episode, Islamist factions, rapidly falling under the more radical influence of Zawahiri and his rich Saudi acolyte Osama bin Laden, join the Neo-Conservative-influenced Reagan Administration to combat the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Part 3: The Shadows in the Cave

The final episode addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorists, and were dependent upon independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad.


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