In 2014, Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city – defended by a hollow army of 65,000 soldiers and police officers – is overrun by fewer than 500 ISIS fighters. A disgraced and disorganized Iraqi Army retreats to Baghdad, while the Islamic State imposes a reign of terror on Mosul’s one million residents. In the fall of 2016, a revitalized army of over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and militiamen mobilize to liberate Mosul from the clutches of the Islamic State. ALI MULA, an Iraqi journalist, joins this army of uneasy allies–including Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Kurds–to find out if they can put aside their sectarian differences and finally free their country from the scourge of ISIS. Along the way to Mosul, ALI MULA encounters an unforgettable group of characters including a Sunni tribal leader calling himself “the Crocodile”, a Sunni militia leader musing on who enabled the rise of the Islamic State, a female militia leader avenging the death of her husband, a canny, Iranian-backed militia leader, an Iraqi Army colonel brushing aside sectarian differences, a mild-mannered lawyer-turned-urban warrior, a fatalistic, animal-loving sniper, an elite band of ISIS killers, drone pilots dropping explosive shuttlecocks on ISIS emirs, and refugees fleeing from the brutality of ISIS occupation. As he nears the end of his journey, ALI MULA meets face-to-face with an ISIS prisoner — a cold-blooded recruiter who reveals the truth behind his nefarious organization. In the aftermath of Mosul’s liberation and back home again in Baghdad, ALI MULA ponders the question: Is the war against ISIS over, or have the seeds of the next sectarian conflict already been sown?
Dan Gabriel is the Executive Producer and creative direction behind MOSUL, the documentary feature film on the battle to reclaim Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2017.
Gabriel’s work and story-telling are inspired by his work as a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, where he spent ten years countering violent extremism, and developing and benchmarking counter-radicalization theory and methodology in the Islamic world. His true-life story spans six tours to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He has lived and worked in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Turkey, and Europe.
Gabriel is a graduate of George Washinton University and holds an MBA from Babson College, as well as an MA in International Affairs from GWU’s Elliott School. After leaving the Agency, he completed certificate programs in Filmmaking at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (2013), and in Producing at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television (2014).