Award-Winning Documentary '(T)ERROR' Follows Local Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Feb 13, 2015

Khalifa Ali Al-Akili, a Wilkinsburg man whose arrest is the subject of the documentary (T)ERROR.
Credit From the documentary (T)ERROR / Courtesy of Chicken & Egg Pictures

The new documentary (T)ERROR focuses on the role of paid FBI informants in capturing alleged terrorists. The film focuses on a Wilkinsburg man, Khalifa Ali Al-Akili, arrested in 2012 on a gun charge following an investigation in which an FBI informant tried to goad him into conversations about Islamic radicalism. Our guests are David Felix Sutcliffe and Lyric Cabral, directors and producers of "(T)ERROR," winner of the Special Jury Award for Breakout First Feature at the Sundance Film Festival.

According to Sutcliffe, the case against Khalifa, like some other cases the FBI has built, looked strong.

“There are these cases that look impressive, but once you dig beneath the surface there's a lot of issues there,” says Sutcliffe.

The film examines the role of FBI informants in their pursuit of terrorists and potential terrorists. Sutcliffe says the relationship between the informants and the government is problematic, but there isn’t a clear action that can be taken to solve the issues the film illuminates.

“There’s no simple solution we can simply package at the end of the film,” he says. "It's more complex than that."

Cabral tied the film's themes with the recent case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying it brings up similar questions about government surveillance.

"Surveillance is in the public consciousness," she says. "I think this film will inform folks about how American tax dollars are being spent."