New Netflix documentary on Texas man who joined ISIS 

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Netflix’s new documentary “Ghost of Sugar Land” follows a group of Muslim friends as they recount the story of their friend who went to Syria and joined ISIS.  Image courtesy of Lydia Snapper, Publicity at Cinetic Marketing & PR.

Netflix’s new documentary “Ghost of Sugar Land” follows a group of Muslim friends as they recount the story of their friend who went to Syria and joined ISIS. Image courtesy of Lydia Snapper, Publicity at Cinetic Marketing & PR.

How much do you really know about your friends? The new Netflix documentary, “Ghosts of Sugar Land” follows a group of Muslim friends as they recount the story of their friend, referred to as “Mark,” who ended up going to Syria and joining ISIS. Despite the documentary’s short run time of 20 minutes, it tells an engaging story.   

Mark was a black man who grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, with many Muslim friends, as there was not a large black community in the town. Mark eventually adopted the Muslim faith as a result of his association with the community. Mark finished college and left home for about a year to work. When he returned, his friends noticed a difference.  

Mark began acting strange and posted extremist messages online. His friends argued that if any one of them posted what Mark was posting, they would have been locked up for life. Mark’s strange behavior culminated in him travelling to Syria and joining ISIS. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary was the debate that the friends had of whether Mark was actually a believer of all the things he said or if he was an FBI informant.  

The friends in the documentary said Mark did not exhibit his strange behavior until he left, and that his parents could have connections to the FBI since they were both ex-military.  

Another interesting aspect of the documentary was the way Mark’s friends hid their identities throughout the filming. They all wore masks depicting pop culture characters, including Spider-Man, Mario and Thor. These masks went unexplained, but juxtapose the serious topics they were discussing. 

Considering the documentary is only 20 minutes long, creators did a good job of presenting a lot of information. Mark had a relatively normal upbringing, which makes his actions as an adult that much more bizarre; most of the documentation covers Mark’s feelings of being an outcast and his search for a sense of belonging.  

While there was a good amount of information covered, the documentary would have benefited from being longer. New details about Mark, whose real name is Warren Christopher Clark, are still being released. Clark was captured by Kurdish forces after the filming of the documentary. He faces indictment in Texas for helping aid a terrorist group. 

The social media posts that Clark made were only briefly mentioned. Clark’s story is interesting, and I would have liked to learn more about what caused his sudden change in character. 

“Ghosts of Sugar Land” was directed by Bassam Tariq and premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the nonfiction short film jury award. 

Among huge Netflix movies like the “Breaking Bad” film, “El Camino” and Eddie Murphy’s movie “Dolemite is My Name,” this documentary seems to be flying under the radar. For anyone looking for an interesting and short documentary, “Ghosts of Sugar Land” is worth the time. If the documentary leaves you wanting to know more, you can follow the story online and in news publications, as new details continue to emerge.  

Rating: 4/5 

Thumbnail courtesy of Slashfilm.com


Edison Escobar is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edison.escobar@uconn.edu.

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