Live Chat Wed. 2:30 pm ET: Going Undercover with Al Qaeda


Guardian reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is no stranger to risky reporting assignments. He’s embedded with insurgents in Iraq, been detained by the Taliban, and, in 2011, was captured by the Libyan army. But even with that track record, infiltrating Al Qaeda in Yemen presented new challenges — and extraordinary risks.

To reach his contact in remote southwest Yemen, Ghaith and his director Safa al-Ahmad took a treacherous route through the no-man’s land between the territory held by the Yemeni army and that held by Al Qaeda.

From there, risking their lives at every turn, they filmed in Al Qaeda-controlled territory, interviewed Al Qaeda fighters and documented their prisoners. Their harrowing journey produced a unique, first-person record of Al Qaeda’s growing influence in the region.

So how did they do it? How close were they to being caught? What role did the camera play? What were the Al Qaeda fighters like, day to day? What’s Al Qaeda’s strategy for winning influence over the population — and how well is it working on the ground?

We’ve asked Abdul-Ahad and the film’s producer, Jamie Doran, to join us to discuss these questions, and take yours.

They’ll be joined by guest questioner Amy Davidson, a senior editor at The New Yorker, where she writes the Close Read blog. She last worked with FRONTLINE to host a chat with Ali Soufan as part of our film The Interrogator.

You can leave a question in the chat window below, and come by at 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 30 to join the live discussion.

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