Victims Face 'Terrorists' on Reality TV Show

But Iraqi program raises ire of human-rights activists
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2014 5:38 PM CST
ISIS Victims Face 'Terrorists' on Reality TV
In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, Haider Ali Motar, right, performs a scene from "In the Grip of the Law," as a TV cameraman moves his position in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

A popular Iraqi reality TV show depicts victims of ISIS attacks facing apparent terrorists who confess for the cameras—a "surreal" program designed to shore up interest in the war against Sunni militants, the AP reports. Amid cartoons, PSAs, and dozens of other pro-war programs, In the Grip of the Law does well in its Friday-night slot. The show includes police evidence and re-enactments by terrorists at the crime scene, Newsweek reports, but encounters with victims are clearly highpoints. "Give him to me—I'll tear him to pieces," says the relative of a terror-attack victim when faced with Haider Ali Motar, the convicted assailant. Motar weeps when confronted by a wheel-chair bound man whose father died in the attack.

But human-rights advocates say these encounters stem from a deeply troubled justice system that routinely obtains "confessions" through torture. "The show is more evidence that law reform is desperately needed in Iraq," says a Human Rights Watch executive. ISIS isn't too thrilled about it either, apparently, for the show's host, Ahmed Hassan, has received death threats and been moved into a fortified compound. The show's state TV broadcaster, Iraqiya, has already seen more than 100 staff members killed since 2003, more than half by assassins in anti-government groups. Yet Iraqi authorities still support In the Grip of the Law: "We are at war on terrorism, and this program is one of our psychological tools to fight the terrorists," says a top federal police officer. (More Iraq stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.