‘Bruno’ actor Sasha Baron Cohen

JERUSALEM – The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist group depicted in the film “Bruno,” is “very upset” their group’s namesake and former member was featured in a film about a homosexual character that includes graphic depictions of homosexual sex.

The group, as well as individual members, released a statement to WND that includes a veiled threat against the movie’s star, Sacha Baron Cohen:

“We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man (Cohen)” said the statement.

“This movie was part of a conspiracy against the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” continued the statement, released through a senior member of the group in the West Bank.

“According to what we checked there was no meeting about the real context of the film. This was a dirty use of our brother, Aiman, and we don’t accept that the name of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is part of the film.”

Aiman is a reference to Ayman Abu Aita, who was interviewed in the movie “Bruno” and labeled as a “terrorist leader” from the Brigades division in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Aita told WND yesterday the movie mislabels him and that Cohen conducted the interview under false pretenses. Aita said he is pursuing legal action against Cohen.

The Brigades statement claimed that “Aiman is part of the political level of Fatah in Bethlehem, part of the leadership of the political apparatus of Fatah. He is not a member of the Brigades.”

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ U.S.-backed Fatah party. The Brigades is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and deadly rocket attacks against Israeli civilian population centers.

Several Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leaders responded to the use of their group in the “Bruno” movie.

Abu Philistine, the current leader of the Brigades in Aita’s hometown of Bethlehem, told WND, “This was a trick against Aiman. We don’t want to be part of this movie”

Jihad Jaara, the infamous exiled chief of the Brigades in Bethlehem, called Cohen “not funny” and said his film was “stupid.”

“I’d like to tell Cohen if you like to be funny you are not. You showed the world how stupid is this film,” Jaara told WND. “We don’t need for Cohen to show us to the world in a homosexual film. That made us very angry at him.”

Continued Jaara: “If he wants to make a real film, then come to the Palestinian territories and see how children are dying every day at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

“I heard about this film and I felt very shamed when I heard about it,” added Jaara.

Jaara was the notorious director of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity who served as the Bethlehem-area chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist organization during that time.

Many senior Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leaders were granted amnesty by Israel in 2007 in an American-brokered gesture to bolster Abbas. The group, therefore, could not release an official pamphlet against the movie since the Brigades has not been releasing pamphlets. Also, some Brigades leaders warned that Abbas’ Fatah party may try to distance itself publicly from the statements against Cohen.

‘Top terrorist’ threatens to sue movie

Speaking with WND, Aita slammed Cohen as a “big liar” who “made up stories” when describing to CBS’ David Letterman last week the way he met Aita at an undisclosed location. Aita said he is pursuing legal action against Cohen.

“[Cohen] said this was a film going to help the Palestinian cause,” Aita told WND. “When I heard (four days ago) what this film was about I really didn’t believe it.”

The character Bruno is a flamboyant Austrian television host who moves to Los Angeles to become “the biggest Austrian star since Hitler.” At one point in the movie, whose $30 million weekend topped the U.S. box office, Bruno meets Aita, depicted as a terrorist group leader from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in a bid to seduce the jihadist group into kidnapping him so Bruno can become famous.

Aita, however, is not exactly a terrorist. At least not anymore.

Aita is a representative of Fatah to the West Bank town of Beit Sahor, which is a satellite of Bethlehem. Aita also is a board member of the Holy Land Trust, a nongovernmental organization promoting Palestinian rights and commitment to nonviolence.

Aita served in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from 2000 until 2003, after which he did a two-year stint in Israeli prison on accusations he was involved in shootings against Israeli soldiers operating in Bethlehem. Still, according to Israeli security sources speaking to WND, Aita, while a member of the Brigades, once worked with Jewish state officials to return two Israeli reserve soldiers who had gotten lost in Bethlehem.

Cohen, meanwhile, has pumped up his sit down with a “real terrorist” to promote his new movie.

In an interview with Letterman last week, Cohen described meeting Aita and Aita’s “bodyguard” at an undisclosed location in the West Bank.

“I thought I needed security,” Cohen told Letterman. “It was in the West Bank. The guy picks this secret location. … The terrorist comes in with his bodyguard.”

“I was pretty sure that my terrorist either did or did not have a gun on him,” said Cohen.

Aita, however, says the interview took place at a private section of a popular restaurant called Everest in the town of Beit Jala, which is in a section in the West Bank under Israeli control.

Aita said he does not carry any weapons and Palestinians are not allowed to bring weapons into Beit Jala. Indeed, during multiple in-person interviews with WND, Aita was unarmed.

Aita also said he does not have a bodyguard. The second individual who showed up with him for the interview with Cohen, he said, was Sammy Awad, the American manager of the Holy Land Trust.

Asked if he thought anything was unusual about the way Cohen acted or dressed during the interview, Aita replied, “No. He behaved very normally.”

“There was nothing special,” continued Aita. “He said he is a German actor making documentaries watched by young people. … He wanted to make a story to mobilize the young people to help us (Palestinians). … I didn’t have any impression he would use my interview in a bad way.”

Aita slammed Baron Cohen as a “big liar.”

He said he is in the process of securing a lawyer to pursue possible legal action, claiming the film “made me big damages.”

Cohen’s publicist, Matthew Labov, told WND the comedian has no comment on the report.

A spokesman for Universal Pictures, which released the movie, said the studio also had no comment.

If you would like to interview Aaron Klein contact Maria Sliwa


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.