Terrorism Close Calls (Docu-series) Episode 1

Terrorism is one of the scariest and most visible threats in modern society. The nature of terrorist attacks combined with the following media coverage somewhat distorts the frequency of the attacks. This series, available on Netflix, is not about attacks that have happened in the past, but ones that almost happened. I’m writing posts after I watch episodes, so this is essentially my initial reactions to each episode.

I’ll start by saying that like every documentary, this one has a clear point of view. This film is friendly to law enforcement and unfriendly to terrorists. This isn’t a bad thing here at all. Now, I know that terrorism and police are two pretty sensitive topics, especially when you consider that many times people in the Muslim and Sikh communities are falsely accused of terrorism or face bias, prejudice, danger, or even death just based on their appearance and religious affiliation. However, this series is based on confirmed terror plots, and not baseless accusations, so far as I can tell thus far.

The first episode follows a plot to place explosives in New York City close to the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. They tried to make homemade chemical explosives from fairly innocuous materials that one could buy at a hardware store. They were getting their instructions and recipes from Al-Qaeda and the Joint Terrorism Task Force found out about it.

In a nutshell, despite some roadblocks, the JTTF was able to intercept the would-be terrorists and they gave up as soon as they realized that the JTTF was onto them. A large portion of the episode was devoted to showing the efforts to arrest the two co-conspirators after the leader was arrested and confessed to planning a terrorist attack.

It was interesting seeing the JTTF’s attempts to stop an attack that could have taken as many lives as the underground bombing in London previously. There are a few complaints that I have about the production itself, such as using the most up to date Gmail interface when dramatizing an email conversation that took place over a decade ago, that were distracting but not deal breakers.

Overall, Terrorism Close Calls seems to be an interesting look into the efforts to stop terrorism before it can take any lives. Proactive action over reactive, you could say. I do have some trepidation going forward, but this definitely seems like something that I want to keep watching.