In creating a Memorial Day Movie list it got me to thinking about other movie list, so I thought I would start with a favorite subject of mine: The Study Of Terrorism and Guerilla Warfare.
Here are some films worth watching if you are interested in learning more about this subject. Most of these films can be found on Netflix or Amazon.
Keep an eye out for more “Film Anthologies” like this in the future.
This is by far one of the best movies ever made in recent times about Political Terrorism in the 70’s and 80’s. Carlos the Jackal was one of the most infamous terrorist and criminals and this movie is extremely accurate in the historical details and action scenes, in particular the Murder of an unarmed Police Officer in Paris in 1975, one of the many crimes which made Carlos a Wanted Man for decades. This movie is quite violent and gritty, but no overly so.
The Baader-Meinhof Complex
With two members of this group recentlyBack in the News,it would not hurt to watch a movie to refresh your memory on European Political Terrorism in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The RAF or Red Army Faction, (also called the Baader-Meinhof Gang) was one of the key Terrorist groups during this time. The only thing I disliked about this movie is it had quite a bit of flagrant nudity and un-needed sexual situations which had nothing really to do with the plot.
A Wonderful Biopic of one of the Founding members of The Irish Republican Army. This movie begins where the rebellion of Ireland against Great Britain began, The Easter Uprising of 1914. Collins was responsible for virtually writing the book on Guerilla Warfare and Counter-Intelligence Operations used by the IRA for decades to come. You should watch this and The Wind that Shakes the Barley together, as the two mesh on the historical timeline of the IRA, as the assassination of Collins was due to the Peace Agreement he made with Great Britain. This is one of Liam Neesons finest performances.
More a film about Counter-Terrorism than Terrorism, Steven Spielberg directed this epic film about the 1972 Munich Olympics Terrorist Attack and the proceeding Israeli Mossad Operation (Called Wrath of God) to Assassinate all the Palestinian terrorist involved. This movie is a great historical biopic of not just the Mossad Operation, but European Political Terrorism in the 70’s as a whole. In true Spielberg style this movie is gritty and violent, taking you right into the center of the action. Next to Carlos, this is one of my favorite Films about Terrorism (and Counter-Terrorism).
This is more of an action film than a terrorist biopic, but none the less I included it because of the Counter-Terrorist aspects. The last 45 minutes of this film is one of the best gunfight scenes in film history. The only gunfight scene that tops it IMO is the one in Heat with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Fifty Dead Men Walking
The semi- True story of a British Police informant who infiltrated the IRA during the period known in Ireland and England as “The Troubles”. Not the best film about the IRA, but no the worst either.
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
A Really Great Historical Film about the early struggles of the IRA, it tell the story of the early Irish Republican Army and the bloody civil war that ensued due to the very unpopular Peace Agreement with Great Britain. A Phenomenal movie about the reality of civil uprisings and the practical applications of Guerilla Warfare. Some have commented this film is too “one-sided” and that it shows the British as the “bad guys”, but I would counter that the early behavior by the “Black and Tans” (British Army) against Irish civilians was brutal and un-called for and was a major factor in why the Irish rose up like they did and fought back.
Flame and Citron
More a film about Urban Guerilla Warfare, this is the True Story of two members of the Danish Resistance in World War II who assassinated high ranking members of the Gestapo and SS. Being a WW2 Historian, I really liked this film and wished more like it would be made. So many Resistance fighters have not been memorialized properly for their fight against tyranny and it is high time books and films were written and made about them.
Modern militaries use relatively standard camouflage patterns and netting to try to hide themselves from prying forces, but not all camouflage and disguise is so boring. Some military disguises that actually worked were outlandish and ridiculous.
10. Israeli Commandos Fooled Sentries By Cross-Dressing
In 1973, Israel launched Operation Spring of Youth as part of a larger operation targeting the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as revenge for the massacre of Israeli athletes at Munich. The operation, which targeted PLO leaders living in Lebanon, had to be very stealthy.
The Sayeret Matkal special operations force tasked with carrying out the assassinations had to sneak past Lebanese security forces and PLO guards without arousing suspicion. To do this, the Israelis turned to a ridiculous disguise: cross-dressing.
After coming ashore on the Lebanese coast on April 9, 1973, some of the Israeli commandos put on dresses and wigs. Pairing up with some of the other commandos, they pretended to be loving couples.
After being driven to their targets by Mossad agents, the commandos blasted down the doors and entered the houses of their targets. Other commandos, some still dressed as women, guarded the outside of the residences. The operation was a complete success, with only two Israeli commandos killed.
9. Explosives Disguised As Flour That Could Be Eaten
With the OSS aiming to disrupt Japanese operations in Southeast Asia, they turned to chemist George Bogdan Kistiakowsky. He created the perfect explosive that could be disguised as, of all things, flour—and it could be used to bake as well.
The “Aunt Jemima” mixture of three parts explosive and one part flour could be sneaked past Japanese soldiers without suspicion. If they did get suspicious, a realistic looking and tasting loaf of bread could be made and eaten to prove to the Japanese that the flour was “just flour.”
Although the flour could be ingested, the original mixture would have made people very ill. This was amply demonstrated in an incident when a Chinese cook disobeyed orders and ate a muffin, becoming so ill that he nearly died.
Ultimately, a second version of “Aunt Jemima” was developed that was far less toxic than the first variant and could be consumed safely in quantity. In the end, more than 15 tons of the stuff was smuggled into Japanese-controlled areas with the Japanese none the wiser.
8. Dazzle Camouflage
By 1917, with German U-boats having sunk a good 20 percent of the British merchant fleet, Britain needed to stem the losses any way it could. Although previous attempts to disguise merchant ships had failed spectacularly or been impractical in hiding the ships entirely from U-boats, artist Norman Wilkinson’s “dazzle” camouflage was designed to obscure the bearing of the ship instead.
If a U-boat couldn’t tell where a ship was heading relative to itself, the U-boat couldn’t target the ship effectively with a torpedo. Geometric shapes in varying shades of black and white accomplished this by obscuring the bow and other angles on the ship that the U-boat normally used to determine the bearing of the ship.
Wilkinson proposed his idea to the admiralty, who were desperate to stop the U-boats. As a result, they put the idea into practice without much testing. Hundreds of ships were painted with dazzle camouflage, each with a unique pattern to keep the Germans from being able to identify ship classes based on their camouflage patterns.
In the end, there was no official measurement of their effectiveness. But anecdotal evidence and more recent research has indicated that the dazzle camouflage was effective.
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