Best of Tribeca: “My Trip to Al-Qaeda”

"Inconvenient Truth" meets Osama in Lawrence Wright's laconic guided tour to the roots of Islamic terrorism

Topics: Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Film Access, Film Salon, Al-Qaida, Jack Abramoff, Osama Bin Laden, Terrorism, Movies,

Best of Tribeca: "My Trip to Al-Qaeda"Lawrence Wright in "My Trip to Al-Qaeda."(Credit: Jojo Whilden)

Counting his unfinished film about disgraced ex-New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his section of the anthology documentary “Freakonomics,” Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”) has four films en route to public consumption. “My Trip to Al-Qaeda,” a screen adaptation of author, screenwriter and journalist Lawrence Wright’s one-man play about his search for the roots of Islamic terrorism, might be the least showy of all, but it’s a spellbinding connect-the-dots tour through some little-understood recent history. (Wright’s 2007 Pulitzer winner, “The Looming Tower,” has been acclaimed as one of the best studies of the cultural climate that led to Islamic terrorism and the 9/11 attacks.)

A genial Oklahoman and natural-born tale-spinner, Wright is also an expert in his field, who befriended Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law (since murdered) and understands the thinking of al-Qaida mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri about as well as any Westerner could. None of his conclusions are all that surprising: Most ordinary Muslims around the world want nothing to do with bin Laden; the growth of terrorism has been fueled by the economic backwardness and political repression of the Arab nations, most notably Saudi Arabia; and the United States reacted to 9/11 almost exactly the way bin Laden hoped it would. In Wright’s cheerfully recounted, homespun version of the tale, there has been one winner so far in the “war on terror,” and it ain’t us. “My Trip to Al-Qaeda” will be broadcast by HBO later this year, and may also see limited theatrical release.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>