Recycle

About This Episode


Recycle reveals the distinct yet intertwined stories of three native sons of the city of Zarqa: al-Zarqawi; Abu Ammar, an ex-Mujahadin fighter who supports his family of 11 by collecting cardboard to recycle; and filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad who, from behind the camera's lens, coolly unravels the knotted threads of poverty, humiliation, and strict religious doctrine that have made the rundown, industrial metropolis a continuing source for jihadist recruits.

The central story is Ammar’s; his attempts to build a normal life are thwarted at every turn. He cannot afford his rent, a scheme to sell used vehicles in Iraq fails when he is almost killed by extremists and American soldiers, and the book he is writing — a moderate interpretation of jihad — goes unfinished. When the war strikes close to home, Ammar is forced to deal with the reality that his life is falling apart. His surprising decision to try something completely different suggests that, when push comes to shove, desperate acts can emerge from the most ordinary of circumstances.