WATCHING terrorist-related films is not my cup of tea.

Aside from the fact that these movies are overrated, I personally abhor the thought of having to bear with all the bloody encounters and bomb explosions that take up at least 30 minutes of running time. But then again, there are exceptions.

Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal top-bill the nail-biting political thriller, “Rendition” directed by Gavin Hood, the filmmaker behind the Oscar-winning foreign film “Tsotsi.” The plot centers on the US government’s controversial practice of transporting suspected terrorists to locations outside the US for intense interrogation and, as the film suggests, torture. Egyptian-born Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), a chemical engineer and a family man, becomes a CIA target after receiving an uncanny phone call from a certain Islamic terrorist who
is part of an extremist society. On his way home to Chicago from business in South Africa, Anwar disappears at the Washington, D.C., airport. The records show he boarded the plane, but he never returns to his pregnant wife, Isabella (Witherspoon), and his little son. As Anwar is taken to an undisclosed location for questioning, Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal), a young and relatively inexperienced CIA analyst, emerges and observes the brutal torture and interrogation of the suspected terrorist at the mercy of the loutish Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor), whose own daughter has run away with the brother of a potential terrorist.

Essentially, the movie submits itself as a bold reenactment of the harsh repercussions of extraordinary rendition. Extraordinary rendition was said to have been implemented in the mid-1990s by Central Information Agency (CIA) officials trying to unearth and destroy militant Islamic organizations in the Middle East, particularly Al Qaeda.

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Since its inception, rendition has been swarmed by controversy as it supposedly violates international law, because of interrogation methods portrayed in the movie as relentless and obvious torture. According to Clinton administration official Richard Clarke, extraordinary renditions apprehend terrorists abroad, usually without the knowledge of, and almost always without public acknowledgment, of the host government.

The uproar over the invalidity of extraordinary rendition reached deafening heights after the United States declared a “war on terror” on Islamic extremists in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Anti-war advocate Scott Horton, an expert on international law, has accused the United States government, in particular the CIA, of rendering hundreds of people suspected of being terrorists or of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations to third-party states, such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. More troubling according to Horton is that such “ghost detainees” are kept outside of judicial oversight, often without ever entering US territory.

They may or may not ultimately be devolved to the custody of the United States. Isolated cases of the abuse brought about by this political idiosyncrasy have surfaced, proving torture and other violations of human rights.

I am not that much adept with discussing matters of political science and war, but I firmly believe it is needless to have a pint of political genius to be able to see the huge technical infractions and damages brought about by rendition. The movie gave me an idea of what might have really happened to the victims of extraordinary rendition and indeed, a sense that the lives of innocent victims are at stake. Forcing innocent mouths to admit to terrorism is such a worthless endeavor.

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Clearly, there is a need to review such actions by powerful forces, as extraordinary rendition creates no less than an environment of instability and discord with the rest of humanity.


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