Laura Poitras’ THE OATH tells a story, from Yemen and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of a cab driver and his brother-in-law, both of whom worked for Osama bin Laden. The cab driver, known as Abu Jandal, served as director of hospitality for al Qaeda but left the organization prior to 9/11. His brother-in-law, Salim Hamdan, worked as bin Laden’s driver.
What makes “THE OATH” powerful is the strange situation that the free Jandal – his brother-in-law was imprisoned during the film – exists in. He was interrogated by the FBI, and he served time in a jail in Yemen, but now he’s out, driving a cab and teaching young people about jihad. Jandal keeps you watching because he’s charismatic, a hustler of sorts.
The most shocking thing in the film is video footage of Osama bin Laden and Jandal together at a group meeting in 2000. In the video, bin Laden tells a group of followers, in essence, if they blow this opportunity to serve Allah, they will just be replaced by someone else.