Grand Jury Award Best Documentary 2010 Slamdance Film Festival

What makes a person willing to kill and
die for their religion?

What social, economic and political environments create the mindset of a Jihadist, especially an American one? American Jihadist is a look at militant Islam through the eyes of an American who fought for it. Isa Abdullah Ali, aka Clevin Raphael Holt, is intriguing because he grew up in the ghettos of America's capitol and was surrounded by physical and psychological violence from the very beginning. American Jihadist looks at what role violence and a lack of hope for the future play in the development of radicalism. The film reaches beyond easy labels to grasp the nuances behind one man's decision to fight for his religion.

American Jihadist is the story of Isa Abdullah Ali, an African-American Muslim from the ghettos of Washington, DC, labeled a "known terrorist" by the U.S. Defense Department though he's never been charged with any crime. Ali fought for six years in Lebanon and Bosnia and was shot multiple times for, as he puts it, "the pleasure of God by taking a stand to help the ill treated and oppressed."

What makes a person willing to pick up a gun for their religion? Are the underlying causes purely religious? Or might religious militancy be a means of addressing chronic social, economic and political issues? And what do the answers mean for the wider Islamic World?

These questions underlie American Jihadist.