Blood and Revenge

1st June 2003 | Channel 4 Dispatches in association with WGBH Boston

In the run up to the Iraq war, Sam Kiley and cameraman/director Nick Hughes, together with Iraqi journalist Mustafa Benar, managed to slip into Kurdish enclaves in Northern Iraq across the Syrian border.

In the weeks that followed, Sam and Nick made a unique record of the war in the north, travelling with a group of Kurdish fighters (Peshmerga) and US Special Forces as the coalition swept into the oil towns of Kirkuk and Mosul.

In the course of making this film, Sam and Nick came close to death on two occasions: once when their Peshmerga convoy was attacked by ‘friendly fire’ from the air, and then on the road from Baghdad to Amman, when they were captured and very nearly executed by Ba’athist bandits.

In between, Blood and Revenge told the story of the Kurds return to the cities they had been driven from during Saddam Hussein’s genocidal Anfal campaign more than ten years ago. In the prisons and torture chambers of Kirkuk, Sam and Nick recorded the recent evidence of brutal, routine torture. In the first days after the capture of the city, they filmed US Special Forces desperately trying to prevent inter-ethnic violence, as Kurds attempted to reclaim their homes from Ba’ath party members.

In a horrific climax to the film, Sam and Nick stumbled across a shocking example of how extreme inter-ethnic hatred had become. They were shown the brain of a young Turcoman boy, shot dead in a drive-by attack by Kurds on the local Turcoman party headquarters.

The film captured the chaos and horror of the conflict in the north, with bleak indications that there was much unfinished business to come.


Directed by Nick Hughes
Reporter: Mustafa Benar
Executive Producer: David Henshaw