Joe and Anthony Russo are speaking out about their Netflix action project “Mosul” in the wake of its cast members reportedly receiving death threats from ISIS. “Mosul,” produced by the Russo brothers and directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan, premiered November 26, 2020 on Netflix and went on to become one of the streamer’s most viewed movies in Europe and the Middle East. Starring Suhail Dabbach and Adam Bessa, “Mosul” is an Iraqi Arabic-language war thriller that follows a SWAT police team’s mission to wipe out ISIS members who killed their loved ones.
“When I posted on my social media that the film was going to come out, the first day there was a lot from ISIS,” Dabbach told Deadline. “They put on a lot of videos and bad words. Like, they have said, now we know you, and you have to watch yourself. Every day, touch your head to make sure it is still on. They said, ‘we know where you live and we will reach you.’”
Carnahan said the death threats have been “a terrible byproduct” of the movie’s high viewership numbers overseas, with Joe Russo adding that it’s “certainly been an unnerving experience for the actors.”
“It’s never a comfortable feeling to have your privacy violated, and it’s terrifying to receive death threats from anonymous sources,” Joe Russo said. “We feel it has been handled expertly by Netflix and by our own security team.”
During the making of “Mosul” in Morocco, the Russo brothers’ AGBO production company used the TigerSwan security service to protect the cast and crew from potential ISIS threats and took extra measures to prevent the film’s ISIS storyline from leaking out. AGBO again turned to TigerSwan to ensure the cast’s safety following the movie’s release and the increase in death threats.
“I will only say we’ve treated this very seriously,” Anthony Russo told Deadline. “We knew the movie was provocative and potentially dangerous for anyone involved. We took the highest security measures we could think of and we were familiar with that process after working on the Marvel movies.”
“This was a whole new level in terms of secrecy,” Anthony continued. “We didn’t distribute scripts, we had a code name for the movie and pulled every reference of ISIS out of scripts when we did have to distribute them, so they were never explicitly mentioned as they were in the film. We had the best security people working with us but still, there was danger, but we had to be in a middle eastern country to make the film like we did. We were exposed and had to do as responsible as we could but everyone felt it was worth the risk.”
According to Deadline: “Dabbach’s family has received similar scary threats, and his co-star Adam Besa, who plays the policeman who gets drafted into the SWAT team, watched his Instagram page get wiped clean and he has been threatened on WhatsApp. Those threats were traced to Turkey. Both the film’s financier AGBO, Netflix and 101 Studios have taken it seriously enough to direct internal security forces to step in and make sure everyone is safe.”
“Mosul” is now streaming on Netflix.