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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatens Sacha Baron Cohen over Bruno film

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades threatens Sacha Baron Cohen over Bruno film

July 27, 2009

Terrorist threat to Sacha Baron Cohen over Bruno ridicule

David Brown, Kartik Mehta
From Times Online (London) July 27, 2009
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Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after being threatened by a terrorist organisation that is angered at its portrayal in the film Brüno.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, said it was "very upset" that it featured in the film starring Baron Cohen's homosexual fashionista alter ego.

Baron Cohen's Austrian character ridicules the terrorist group when he attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the Martyrs' Brigades.

The London-born actor is reportedly taking the threat seriously and has improved security arrangements for himself and his family in preparation for violent reprisals.

The Martyrs' Brigades has issued a statement to a Jerusalem-based journalist including a veiled threat against Baron Cohen, 37. "We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man," it said. "The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades."

The group condemned the use of the interview with Mr Abu Aita. "According to what we checked there was was no meeting about the real context of the film," the statement said. "This was a dirty use of our brother, Ayman, and we don't accept that the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is part of the film."

The group is alleged to be responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings. It has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and United States. Baron Cohen's Austrian character is shown telling Mr Abu Aita: "I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al-Qaeda is so 2001."

Before Mr Abu Aita can respond, Brüno suggests that he remove his moustache, explaining: "Because your king Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa."

Mr Abu Aita claims that he was tricked into appearing in the film and has insisted that he is no longer involved in the Martyrs' Brigades. He has threatened to sue Baron Cohen. "This man, I think he is not a man," Mr Abu Aita said. "He is not saying the truth about me."

Mr Abu Aita's lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, has said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios, alleging that the terrorist reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and that the homosexual association could get him killed by the Palestinians.

Mr Abu Ahmad said: "This joke is very dangerous. We are not in the United States, we are not in Europe, we are in the Middle East and the world operates differently here."

Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, also angered Orthodox Jews in Israel. During the filming of Brüno he nearly provoked a riot in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Jerusalem when he strutted down the street in a sexed-up Hasidic outfit that included skintight shorts.

Baron Cohen is reported to have received death threats in America and Kazakhstan after his previous film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

A spokesman for Baron Cohen refused to comment.

Aaron Klein, a WorldNet reporter who received the statement from the Martyrs' Brigades, said: "These are terrorists who are fundamentalist Islamists. They are offended by Hollywood in general. They are against feminism, gay rights and abortion.

"Once I asked them what would they do if they found out one of their members was a homosexual. They said they would cut off his head. That's what they think of that issue."

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