The world has changed a lot since 9/11 and as we know most of those changes, while meant to keep us safe, haven’t always been for the better. For most of us it boils down to simple inconvenience, for others, it has been life changing. With the FBI vowing to be proactive in stopping terrorism before it ever occurs, they have increased their number of informants so that they can infiltrate the groups they believe will carry out the next act of violence.
Filmmakers Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe have taken us into that world, as they are on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. In the beginning we meet “Shariff”, a 63-year-old man, who was once a Black revolutionary, who has turned informant. “Shariff” , when needed is put in situations so that he can monitor a specific person, who the FBI believes is capable of taking things from ranting on social media, to action. His latest job takes “Shariff” to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to follow a guy, who the FBI believes is about to take the next step, what follows might make you question the right and wrong of it all.
The documentary begins as just following only “Shariff”, but then shifts while also taking the time to track down members of a family of a man that “Shariff” help put behind bars as an informant. Everything looks good, as “Shariff” seems to be helping the government achieve the greater good, and putting the bad guys away. Everything changes when the filmmakers start to have an interaction with a person of interest “Shariff” is trying to get in close with. It’s at that point that you realize that too often someone can be accused of something based on they way they look. Sure this person has said something on Facebook, which might make someone believe something, but isn’t that a freedom we are granted in this country?
Considering what you see in this film, it is easy to believe that some of the people who the FBI stopped, might not have been up to anything at all, other then being put in a situation that made them seem guilty in the eyes of the law. “(T)ERROR” is a compelling look into the world of counterterrorism that just might make you question the lengths we are willing to go based on our belief structure, and that is just what the filmmakers want you to do. Because as we now know with all the media that surrounds us, there are not just two sides to every story.