The Making of a Martyr

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The Making of a Martyr
Directed by Brooke Goldstein
Alistair Leyland
Release date
  • 2006 (2006)
Country Canada

The Making of a Martyr is a 2006 film made by Canadian directors Brooke Goldstein and Alistair Leyland.


On March 25, 2004, Sixteen year old Hussam Abdo, was apprehended at an Israeli border checkpoint with live explosives strapped around his waist. Yet, he was noticed running towards the checkpoint and ordered to stop by Israeli soldiers. Instead of detonating the bomb Hussam surrendered and after the removal of his suicide belt, was sent for serving time in the juvenile ward of an Israeli prison for attempted murder. Since the start of the Palestinian Intifada in 2000, an alarming number of suicide bombers have been children aged under eighteen. To explore this troubling phenomenon, filmmakers Brooke Goldstein and Alistair Leyland risked their lives and traveled to the Palestinian towns of Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Nablus, seeking out and meeting with leaders of terrorist organizations responsible for recruiting children for suicide attacks. The directors find themselves with unprecedented access to Hussam’s home in Nablus, with his mother, father and sister; to the Israeli prison where he is held; to Zacharia Zubeidi, commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Jenin; to Palestinian Television headquarters in Ramallah; to the Islamic Jihad Summer Academy in Tulkarem, and more. Their interviews are a window into the causes behind the recent phenomenon of child suicide bombers, and why Palestinian children are being recruited to violently kill themselves and others for the sake of Jihad.


First-time director and attorney Brooke Goldstein made this film with the intent of facilitating the enforcement of Palestinian children’s human rights, namely their right to life and to an education free of incitement to kill themselves. Director/Producer Alistair Leyland has been an advocate of providing exposure to human rights abuses for some time. Having spent time covering the "one child policy" in China and its effects on infant girls, Leyland knew the story of a 16-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber was both horrifying and complex.

It was after shooting tens of hours of interviews in the region that I finally realized these children are being preyed upon by higher powers. This issue needed to be addressed, his (Abdo's) story needed to be told.

— The Making of a Martyr's Director/Producer Alistair Leyland


In April 2006, The Second Annual United Nations Documentary Film Festival honored The Making of a Martyr with the Audience Choice Award for Best Film. Brooke Goldstein and Alistair Leyland were on-site to accept their first award for this film.

Official selections include: Brooklyn International Film Festival (2007); Malibu International Film Festival (2007); Shoot-Me Film Festival (2007); Liberty Film Festival (2007); Whistler Film Festival (2006); Anchorage International Film Festival (2006); United Nations Documentary Film Exposition, London, England (2006); Shoot-Me Film Festival The Hague (2007).

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