Skip to content

Second Source Evaluation: Bitter Lake

“Bitter Lake” thumbnail

The United States played a role in the creation of nowadays terrorist groups through the funding of the Mujahideen back in the Cold War. The documentary “Bitter Lake” on BBC made by Adam Curtis was the breakthrough point in my research. The film went in depth into the relationship between the United States, Russia, Britain and Afghanistan as well as its surrounding Muslim country including Saudi Arabia and most importantly, how they all deal with the Muslim extremists. The visualization with clips taken directly from the battlefield really helped with understanding the magnitude of the situation as well as the feeling of the people affected by the conflict.


The documentary showed in detail how the rebellious Mujahideen – armed and funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia – developed into the infamous terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and Taliban that we know of today. The rebels -Osama bin Laden amongst them – allied with the States and fought against the spread of the feared Soviet communism in the Muslim countries, mainly in Afghanistan. However, when the Russians left in 1995, chaos pursued as the Mujahideen groups branched out into different groups, despite having a similar core belief of Wahhibism – an anti modern world, extreme Islam belief. The two major Jihadist groups that came out of this was the Taliban and Al-Qaeda with the leading figure Osama bin Laden. Both groups in the end were headed towards the idea of a caliphate, ideally bringing the world back to how Muslims lived in the centuries ago before technology and uniting all the Muslim nations.  The documentary then explains how the West is repeating history by sending troops back into the Middle East to force democracy, a mistake that Russia had made only a couple of decades ago with communism.


The documentary went really in depth with all the points it had made and gave lots of details supporting their argument. However, one weakness to the source is that it’s a film documentary based on research of an English film maker, which could’ve meant bias towards the reasoning for the West. Nevertheless, it contributed greatly to my research paper and will be key information I can look back on.



Curtis, Adam, director. Bitter Lake. BBC, 2015.

Published inResearch Paper

One Comment

  1. JPT JPT

    A handy treatment of a pretty solid view and while I admit that you miss a chance to account or contextualize the leftward bias of even this state-sponsored (or BBC at least) documentary. Curtis tends to go for the easy emotional appeal but you focus on all the key underlying trends of Wahabism and the Saudi connection. good work! 46.5/50

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *