Don't miss




The man who radically changed millions of children's lives

Read more


How did Spain recover from the 2004 terror attacks?

Read more


Film show: Terrorism on screen in France and beyond

Read more


After the Paris attacks: All behind the president?

Read more


How does the Islamic State group make its money?

Read more


'The Turkish missile crisis'

Read more


Paris attacks: Debunking the conspiracy theories

Read more


'Who are our true allies?'

Read more


Small change: New €20 note adds anti-fraud features

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.



Latest update : 2011-06-20

Exclusive: On the trail of al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian soldiers

In parts of Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, Osama Bin Laden is being mourned by young Islamist activists who are swearing to avenge him. From the jungles of the Philippines to the jails of Indonesia, FRANCE 24 reporters went on the trail of al Qaeda's Asian network for this exclusive report.

On May 2 2011, history was made in Abbottabad in northern Pakistan. It was there in the Himalayan foothills, that Osama Bin Laden, the West’s most wanted man, was shot dead in a commando raid by US special forces.

A few weeks earlier, it was Umar Patek, the most wanted man in Asia, who was arrested in Abbottabad under the greatest secrecy. This Indonesian activist is suspected of being involved in the Bali nightclub bombings of 2002 that killed 202 people. Patek is said to be a leading member of the terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah.

Was the Abbottabad connection a coincidence? With this in mind, we decided to continue to Pakistan for an investigation we began several years ago that took us across the whole of Southeast Asia on the trail of al Qaeda’s Asian soldiers. We also tried to understand something that is evident from the determination of hundreds of jihadists -- the feelings of injustice and discrimination that are so widespread from Afghanistan to Indonesia, and in a large part of the Muslim world.

To follow the trail we had to gain the confidence of guerrillas in the jungle of Jolo, in the southern Philippines. The same went for Islamist fighters in Aceh, in Indonesia, and for networks of repented terrorists, convicted terrorists in jail, fugitives’ families, terrorism experts and sympathisers.

We tried to find the heart of the terrorist labyrinth, often without being able to film, simply going where meetings and chance took us. There were many undercover interviews, and many no-shows at appointments. We were sometimes forced to bend the rules, for example, to speak to terrorists sentenced to life in a high-security prison. It was not easy to gain access to some key figures of these underground networks. Above all, we had to remain impartial to convince the repented terrorists to give details -- often for the first time on camera -- of the internal workings of secret organisations, and to lift the veil on their own past actions.

We also had to break into the very closed circle of the "new generation" of terrorists, these heirs of jihad who grew up nurtured by the tales of war and adventures of their elders, the veteran mujahideen of Afghanistan. Many of the latter left their villages in Indonesia or the Philippines to fight against infidels for their Muslim brothers. Many in the region are still willing to carry that torch.

On May 2 2011, when US President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed, one part of the world welcomed the news with relief. But another, underground world -- the one that we encountered -- began mourning for a lost hero, and swore to avenge him.

By Vivienne Montgomery , Vincent LEJEUNE , Sylvain ROUSSEAU , Régis DESCONCLOIS , Matthieu MABIN , Cyril PAYEN



2015-11-13 PKK

Video: A rare look inside the Kurdish rebel movement

FRANCE 24 brings you a rare look inside the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, in the midst of fighting a guerrilla war against the Turkish army and the Islamic State group.

Read more

2015-11-05 Syria

Video: Inside Assad’s Syria

For the past month, Russian bombs over Syria have further complicated the civil war, a conflict that has been tearing the country apart for almost five years. What is the...

Read more

2015-10-30 Afghanistan

On the refugee trail from Afghanistan to Germany

FRANCE 24 brings you an exclusive documentary from the refugee road to Europe. This is the extraordinary tale of a one-way journey from Afghanistan to Europe. Our reporter...

Read more

2015-10-23 Brazil

Brazil: How real is Rio's renewal ahead of 2016 Olympics?

After the FIFA World Cup last year, Rio de Janeiro is set to host the Olympic Games next summer. Over the past few years, the city has been transformed and reinvented to be able...

Read more

2015-10-02 South Africa

Video: Farmers living in fear in South Africa

In South Africa, violence in the big cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg or Cape Town often makes the front pages of the newspapers, but crime that is terrorising countryside...

Read more