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An Inside Look Into the World of ISIS

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Why you should care

Because there are two sides to every story. Even this one.

Producer: James Watkins. Editor: Craig Tovey

When Peter Kosminsky teamed up with National Geographic to direct The State— a two-night miniseries that follows the journey of four British citizens who join ISIS — he knew it would be difficult. In fact, he says, it’s the most challenging project he’s ever taken on, because it’s demanded he get in the headspace of a potential terrorist. But that is precisely the point.

“It would be so much easier if the people who carry out these appalling crimes were all clinically insane. We could just write it off in that way and not have to really struggle with it,” he says. The challenge, he finds, is in the fact that those who leave comfortable lives behind to join the Islamic State often are fairly normal individuals.

“A monstrous thing is not necessarily done by a monster,” he notes.

Kosminsky invites readers to step inside the world of the radicalized men and women who make up the foreign fighters in Syria. This will be uncomfortable, he says, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

“The only way we might deal with this is if we engage with it in a way that will feel distasteful, as it often is when you treat with your enemy. I suppose this drama is a tiny attempt at the limitations of the medium to begin that process.”

Watch National Geographic’s two-night miniseries drama The State, about the path to radicalization at the hands of ISIS, premiering Monday, September 18 at 9/8c.


People shaking up their fields, old dogs doing new tricks, and those who like to bring the ruckus.