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BBC: al Qaeda Does Not Exist, Banned in the U.S. ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Les Blough and Siv O'Neill (Axis of Logic). Jason Burke (Video)
Axis of Logic (commentary). BBC (video)
Thursday, Jul 14, 2011

Below, French Axis of Logic columnist, Siv O'Neall republished an excerpt from a BBC series video with a thoughtful editorial comment. The Three Part BBC series titled The Power of Nightmares was written, produced and narrated by Adam Curtis. We became interested in the entire series and and investigated the distribution and censorship of this important documentary. The video excerpt draws heavily from a book by Jason Burke, "Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror" first published in hardback in 2003 and later updated and republished in paperback in 2004 as "Al Queda."

The Power of Nightmares (entire series) can be viewed in the 3 one hour videos on Axis of Logic:

The Power of Nightmares, a
censored film by Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis' series begins the series with a look at two men, one an Egyptian school teacher, Sayyid Qutb whose ideas it is said led to the 9/11 attacks and the other, Leo Strauss in Chicago who called on U.S. politicians to invent national myths that led to creation of fear against foreign threats, myths that fueled fear of Russians among Americans and the cold war with the Soviets and now, fear of Muslims and Islam. But for the relatively few who have seen it, the series intensifies by dismantling the myth of Al Qaeda and the U.S.-led war on terror.

Originally Aired on the BBC

According to Scribs, "The Power of Nightmares was first broadcast on BBC Two in parts, each one hour long on consecutive Wednesday evenings in the autumn of 2004. The series was rebroadcast in late January 2005 on three consecutive nights, with the final part updated to reflect the Law Lords ruling from the previous December that detaining foreign terrorist suspects without trial is illegal." The video excerpt republished below on Axis of Logic was included as footage in the third part of this series titled, "The Shadows in the Cave" where it appears at about 6:30 minutes into that one hour program.

Obscurity on the BBC

We found reproductions of the 3 part series in various internet media but on the BBC website, only in a corner reference to Cannes to screen BBC's Nightmares. It is well hidden, not appearing with searches, using the title or the name, Adam Curtis general searches or among listed programs on BBC television dating back to 2003.

The BBC introduces the series in the Cannes screen reference cited above and includes some correspondence from viewers who have seen it. We include the BBC's introduction, the first response listed from a viewer and the reply by Adam Curtis:

The Power of Nightmares is to be turned into a feature film to be screened at the Cannes film festival. It was first screened on BBC Two in Autumn 2004 as a series of three one hour documentaries questioning whether the threat of terrorism to the West is a politically driven fantasy and if al-Qaeda really is an organised network.

The BBC was inundated with correspondence, some critical much of it very positive. Viewers were invited to put their questions to the creator of the series, Adam Curtis. Here he responds to some of those correspondents, chosen to represent a broad selection of your questions.

Viewer Peter Grant, London: I know you have already been asked, but PLEASE, PLEASE, release the series on video or DVD.

Producer Adam Curtis: The problem is that the films are full of archive film and music from a multitude of sources. The reason my series are normally not released on DVD is that it is prohibitively costly and a nightmare - no pun intended - to clear the rights.

But so many people have now asked for the series to be released in this form that I think it probably will happen.

NOTE: We are very keen that the programmes are made widely available including in America and although the main networks have shown little interest, we are confident that the programmes will be shown in some form. There are however no plans for a book or that the BBC should publish transcripts in addition to the unofficial ones already existing on the internet. Further news about the Power of Nightmares and in particular availability of a DVD or video will be published here.

Screened at Cannes

The organisers of the Cannes Film Festival approached Curtis, asking him to make the three-part documentary into a single film to be shown Out of Competition at their 2005 festival. At Cannes on May 14, 2005 the film premier was shown "under the glare of the world's media at the Palais on Saturday night," according to the BBC. Of course those uninvited millions to Cannes were not among those who were "under the glare."

Distribution in the United States

The series has not been shown on television in the United States. It appears that the only public showing in the U.S. was in February, 2005 as part of the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. Scrib reports that after Colombia, MO showing Curtis led a discussion with the viewers in which he doubted that the series would ever be shown on U.S. television or released via DVD. But the series has played in a few small independent U.S. theaters. Curtis also stated:

"Something extraordinary has happened to American TV since September 11. A head of the leading networks who had better remain nameless said to me that there was no way they could show it. He said, 'Who are you to say this?' and then he added, 'We would get slaughtered if we put this out.' When I was in New York I took a DVD to the head of documentaries at HBO. I still haven't heard from him."

Distribution in Canada

The Power of Nightmares was aired in Canada in April 2005 by CBC Newsworld, and on 16 July 2006 and 17 July 2006, the full three episodes of The Power of Nightmares aired again in Canada on the CBC Newsworld series, The Passionate Eye.


In Australia, the programme was to be screened on SBS beginning on July 12, 2005 but the screening of the series was cancelled. An e-mail response enquiring as to this cancellation was worded "SBS Management made the decision that in light of the recent London bombings it would not be appropriate to screen the series at this time." SBS rescheduled the series and it was screened over three nights beginning December 6, 2005, and again over three weeks beginning January 29, 2007.


In Denmark the film was shown by the national broadcasting corporation, Danmarks Radio, on the channel DR2 in March 2007. A DVD package was also offered in Denmark with Parts 1 and 2 in the quarterly DVD magazine Wholpin.

So who controls distribution of "The Power of Nightmares" now?"

When the edited 2½ hour version was screened in May, 2005, Pathé, a media corporation in France bought up distribution rights supposedly "to exhibit this version in cinemas worldwide." Curtis apparently believed this, reporting to the Guardian, "They think there's a massive market for this." It never happened. Pathé was founded as Société Pathé Frères (Pathé Brothers Company) in Paris, France in 1896 and became the largest film equipment and production company in the world during the first part of the 20th century. In 1990 the French conglomerate, Chargers, led by Jérôme Seydoux, took control of the company and as a result of the deregulation of the French telecommunications market, Pathé merged with Vivendi in 1999. The merger involved a n exchange of three Vivendi shares for every two Pathé shares. The WSJ estimated the value of the deal at US$2.59 billion.

Following that merger, Vivendi retained Pathé's interests in British Sky Broadcasting and CanalSatellite, a French broadcasting corporation and then remaining assets to Jérôme Seydoux's family-owned corporation, "Fornier SA," who changed its name to Pathé. In 2002, Forbes listed billionaire Jérôme Seydoux as one of the "World's Richest People." He is owner Pathé and Gaumont with a fortune derived from a stake in oilfield services giant Schlumberger. He also manages extensive real estate with properties in France, Ireland and southern Virginia. His profile in Business Week provides a further glimpse of his power in media and other transnational enterprises:

Jérôme Seydoux serves as Co-President of Pathe SA. Mr. Seydoux serves as Co-Chairman of Executive Board of Pathe SA and a Member of its Management Board. Mr. Seydoux also serves as Chairman of Pathé SAS, Pathé Distribution SAS, British Sky Broadcasting Group plc and Pathé Renn Production SAS. Mr. Seydoux served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of Chargeurs SA until September 15, 2010 and as its Vice-Chairman from 2007 to September 15, 2010. Mr. Seydoux served as the Chairman ... and Member of the Supervisory Board of Pathe SA. Mr. Seydoux serves as Vice-Chairman of Olympique Lyonnais Groupe SA. Mr. Seydoux's other position are: Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of Mont-Blanc & Compagnie SA, Compagnie du Mont-Blanc SA, Vice-Chairman and Director of Télé Monte-Carlo SA. Mr. Seydoux serves as a Director of Chargeurs SA. He also serves as a Member of the Supervisory Board of Accor SA, Director and member of the Nominations Committee of Groupe Danone SA, Legal Manager of JMS Films SNC, Ojej SC, Pathé Image SNC, Sojer SC, Edjer EURL, Permanent representative of Pathé on the Board of Directors of SPCS SA, and of Soparic Participations on the Board of Directors of Olympique Lyonnais SAOS. Mr. Seydoux has been a Director of Olympique Lyonnais Groupe SA since October 2, 2006. Mr. Seydoux is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Electronique, d'Electrotechnique et d'Hydraulique located in Toulouse.

According to Curtis, the series shown on BBC and in Film Festivals received a powerful response from viewers, "... the response from viewers was overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-four per cent of the emails were in favour." The documentary has been republished on Google Videos 4 years ago and on You Tube, where we found it in 2008 but it has been widely excluded by those in power from movie theaters, television (it's biggest potential for viewing)and promotion by the corporate print media worldwide.

In conclusion, the virtual banning of the Power of Nightmares is far from exceptional. It was most recently seen when billionaire Patrick Lannon canceled John Pilger's film, The War You Don't See on the eve of it's premier on June 15 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pilger explains:

The reaction to the Lannan ban has been illuminating. The brave, like the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, were appalled and said so. Similarly, many ordinary Americans called into radio stations and have written to me, recognising a symptom of far greater suppression. But some exalted liberal voices have been affronted that I dared whisper the word, censorship, about such a beacon of “cultural freedom”. The embarrassment of those who wish to point both ways is palpable. Others have pulled down the shutters and said nothing. Given their patron’s ruthless show of power, it is understandable. For them, the Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote, “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

Already plans to restrict the internet and either bury or completely censor important films like those of Curtis and Pilger are underway. David Barsamian, who was to appear with Pilger in Santa Fe, said of the cancelation, “Something is going to surface. They can’t keep the lid on this.” Maybe he is right, maybe not.

- Les Blough, Editor

Al Qaeda Does Not Exist, the excerpt from the BBC series can be viewed below Siv O'Neall's editorial comment and introduction:

Siv O'Neall: This video from 2008 is based on Jason Burke's book 'Al Qaeda'. It is well worth being brought up again at this time because of the major importance of tearing apart the Al Qaeda myth and also because of all the hoopla surrounding the recent and very questionable 'killing' of Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by valiant navy seals. Western media were widely sold on this killing story even though there are valid proofs of Bin Laden's death in October 2001.

"Al Qaeda simply means "the base" or "the database" in reference to CIA/MI6 information on mujahedeen fighters who were funded and trained by the Western nations to fight against the USSR. Wake up America, you are being brainwashed by the mainstream media and government propaganda." - SON

There is no such thing as "al Qaeda", there is no one on earth who calls himself a member of "al Qaeda". "al Qaeda" is a term made up by the U.S. government to be applied to anyone killed during the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no formal organization. There is no secret terrorist network. What there is is a phantom enemy, a boogyman that was easily sold to the American people for the benefit of the Bush Administration and their friends at PNAC.

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This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!

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