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Yemen's fight against resurgent Al Qaeda

The government is backing a feature film to warn young Yemenis against radical jihad.

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Antiterror film: 'The Lost Bet' is a new government-backed feature film produced by Fadl al-Olfi, left, who is seen directing two actors.

Ginny Hill

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The LandCruiser snaked along a desert road driven by a suicide bomber toward his target – unwitting tourists. "God is great," he shouted before carrying out the destructive mission.

It's a terrifying scene that is part of the new government-backed movie, "The Losing Bet," that premièred last Sunday to educate the public about the consequences of Islamist extremism.

The movie comes at a time when Yemen is seeing a new generation of homegrown radicals ramp up attacks against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime and Western targets in the country.

"Terrorists are outnumbered by millions of Yemenis who love their country," says Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri, speaking after the première. "The film is part of our efforts to enlist the help and cooperation of the Yemeni people."

The plot follows two Yemeni jihadis, who return from years living abroad. They were sent home by an Al Qaeda leader to recruit new members to carry out deadly operations in Yemen. Austere and intolerant, they clash with their families who make a living by selling goods and services to tourists.

"Every terrorist is someone's son or brother," says the film's producer, Fadl al-Olfi. "We wanted to portray the radicalization process taking place within a community, to alert young people to the signs of extremism and show family members they can help by informing the authorities about worrying behavior."

The film comes on the heels of a crackdown on militants in the desert province of Hadramaut. In the past three weeks, security forces have killed five Al Qaeda suspects and arrested more than 30 suspected Al Qaeda members. Two Saudi passports were found among documents seized in this month's raids and interrogations revealed apparent plans to launch terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, according to reports in Yemeni newspapers.

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