Proof (Twitter)

I’m here today to answer your questions about counterrorism efforts against ISIS, making my first feature documentary, and to share the release (today!) of MOSUL's Original Soundtrack from record producer and electronic DJ Photek.

A few quick answers:

  • Yes, my job was kind of like the new Jack Ryan series (which is very well researched!). Here's my bio.
  • No, the CIA didn’t covertly fund this movie
  • Yes, MOSUL is out now: iTunes | Amazon | Vimeo | Google Play

MOSUL (2019) distributed by Gravitas Ventures

The gritty, thrilling story of the local militias and uneasy allies who banded together to liberate Iraq's second-largest city of 1.3 million people from ISIS in 2017. IMDb

Ask me anything!

EDIT: Back at 2pm PT / 5pm ET to answer your questions!

Thanks for the amazing questions today! Be sure to check out the film on iTunes and Amazon (links above). I’ll try to come back and give a few more questions later. Thanks Reddit!

Comments: 198 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

NotAFuckinRobot59 karma


danielgabrielMOSUL55 karma

Sadly, it does. That was the true reality of the situation, and we included it in the film. For instance, we show cell-phone videos of Iraqi security forces committing potential war-crimes against "suspected" ISIS fighters. Revenge and retribution is a theme of the film, and we address it head-on. As for the events after MOSUL, the filming ends in July of 2017 when "victory" was declared, but the central question posed by the film is "What happens after ISIS." We certainly hope that it will raise awareness to the issues you've addressed above.

NotAFuckinRobot20 karma


danielgabrielMOSUL26 karma

Thank you, Mr (Not-A-)Robot, and please let us know your thoughts once you do. We made every effort to get the details right - this is not a Hollywood film. It was produced by people who were there, suffered, fought, and in some cases died to roll back the evil we now know as Daesh.

Reveelh36 karma

Hey Daniel, im an 19 yo iraqi that fled iraq during the war 2003 - 2004 fled from there to Ayria, then fled syria @ 2011 since it started to be a war zone then i fled to finland and i live here currently. And I ended up being alone in a foreign country with the 2nd most hardest language, my whole entire childhood is ruined because of the american invasion which was justified by some chemical weapons which were never found, I am now struggling here by myself without no family because of your invasion, my father was taken and killed because he was in Saddam's regime. I sont blame you for all this, but I'd like to hear what you have to say to a young man whose life was ruined on actions based on nothing?

danielgabrielMOSUL7 karma

Reveelh, thx for this question - and for sharing your personal story. I am unclear whether you are currently 19, or were 19 when the US involvement began. Nevertheless, the question of US involvement in Iraq is a deeply controversial one - and for some (like yourself), it's personal as well. As we have screened MOSUL around the country to US veterans' audiences, one constant refrain that I've heard is: no matter what your thoughts on the politics of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq....we are in 2019, and we must NOW deal with the circumstances at hand. Many veterans with whom I have spoken look back and find the decision to invade Iraq to be a mistake. And yet, they regardless remain invested in a free and prosperous Iraq.

Although you were fortunate enough to flee Iraq and avoid the siege of ISIS, many in Mosul and other parts of the Sunni Triangle, were not. SO: this is really their story, and it is one that I believe deserves to be told.

Woofers_MacBarkFloof15 karma

Hey, looking forward to watching this documentary.

I’ve recently had a thing for searching for just how many Daesh women were combatants, a severely under reported area. During your filming and time in Iraq, did you come across any female combatants (live or dead) outside of suicide bombers? Or was that just not very commonly seen in Iraq as apposed the the Deir ez Zor and campaign?

danielgabrielMOSUL19 karma

Great question. Short answer, the ONLY woman fighter featured in MOSUL is fighting on the side of the "good-guys": i.e. Um Hanadi. However, I've read the same reports as you: that the zealousness, brutality, and violence of FEMALE Daesh fighters is largely unreported and underestimated. The looming question for countries from whence these combatants have emigrated is... how do you repatriate a female fighter - and her young childen who have been born under the Islamic State. TBD.

SdKfz25214 karma

Hello Daniel, I was wondering, in your upcoming film, does the Iraqi Golden Division make many appearances, and will the fact that mostly Iranian-supplied PMUs that practically report directly to the Ayatollah Khamenei secured a ring of steel around the entire city be touched upon? I've constantly seen articles after articles about Mosul that completely neglect the part where PMUs practically never took part in the direct fighting within the city and were more relegated towards making sure ISIS fighters couldn't escape from the Iraqi Army and backing US forces in their quest to liberate the city. I'll definitely consider watching the documentary anyway if there isn't any Golden Division or PMUs present.

Thank you.

danielgabrielMOSUL19 karma

Thx for this important question! We showcase (3) separate and distinct fighting groups in MOSUL: The Emergency Response Brigade (ERB), Golden Division, and PMUs (Popular Mobilization Units). They all play an important role in ultimately defeating ISIS - but, as you've noted, the politics are interesting (confusing?) when looking at each in its own right. For the earlier part of your question, look to the scene with Um Hanadi (a Sunni widow). She refers at one point to "salaries" being paid to the fighter under her. One guess where those "salaries" are coming from. Hint: NOT Uncle Sam.

kompot36412 karma

What is your opinion on the CIA funding / founding groups like al qaeda and the free syrian army since the 80s?

I'm actually referencing proven declassified events like operation cyclone.

danielgabrielMOSUL4 karma

This is poorly-summarized thesis of the idea that: during the 1980s, the US supported Wahhabist groups in opposition to the Soviet Union. Equating al Qa'ida to the umbrella term "mujahideen" groups is not an accurate comparison. To your point, however, it is well-known that nation-states tend support allies that are in alignment with their strategic goals. See: Charlie Wilson's War

MortalForce12 karma

How many questions are you anticipating not being allowed to answer?

danielgabrielMOSUL28 karma

I'll stop when I hear the boots coming down the hallway.

A_Feathered_Raptor9 karma

A lot of American war films go for very sentimental or very propagandist angles. What films would you recommend that most accurately depict modern American counterterrorism operations?

danielgabrielMOSUL9 karma

Great question. First, we're pretty proud and confident that MOSUL tells an accurate and authentic story of US-trained and equipped Iraqi Special Forces CT operations. At the same time, we don't sugarcoat it: There is a scene towards the end where an Iraqi fighter has his scope mounted backwards on his Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). Not good.. and I wonder how that worked out for him! We strived to produce a documentary that would be compelling enough for folks to watch it, and not come across like a History Channel special. We did that by finding the right CHARACTERS, and highlighting them - and their conflicts - to let the audience to see the dynamics on the ground.

mike_blair5 karma

It's funny that "not sugar-coating it" is some dumbass with a scope the wrong know, potential warcrimes, that..of course happened on both sides.

danielgabrielMOSUL2 karma

me dumbass with a scope the wrong

Yeah. And we show that in the film too. Your point?

danielgabrielMOSUL7 karma

Thanks for the amazing questions today!

Be sure to check out the film on iTunes and Amazon (links above).

I’ll try to come back and give a few more questions later.

Thanks, Reddit!

DylanVincent6 karma

If you're in the CIA why should we trust anything you say?

danielgabrielMOSUL4 karma

You shouldn't. You should gather facts, analyze and assess them, and make your own conclusion.

LordThoughte5 karma

Hello Daniel! First off, Thank you for your service! My question is: What was the most dangerous experience you had to face off during your job in Iraq? A followup question, What was the most challenging part of making this film! Can't wait to watch it! Thanks

danielgabrielMOSUL4 karma

Thanks for your kind words, and I hope you enjoy the film. My recollection is one particular day in late 2004 when I was in Ramadi, where it seemed that every mortar got closer and closer. :o The Marines, however, carried on. So, that was that. <<shrug>>

celeste09174 karma

Hi Dan! About the movie MOSUL, how was the filming crew trained to cover real-time battles? Any big surprises during the shooting? Any unexpected events they didn't anticipate?

danielgabrielMOSUL6 karma

In filmmaking, like in war, there is always the unknown unknown. Mix the two together, and you end up with the exciting but challenging task of trying to craft a story around an event that is happening in real-time and is never 100% clear on who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. The all-Iraqi film crews that shot MOSUL had no specific training in war-time journalism - other than they grew up in a country that has been in a perpetual state of war since most of them were kids. The bravery and determination to tell the story of MOSUL is attributed only to them, and the security forces whose story they told.

moragisdo3 karma

Have you worked with the Intelligence Support Activity ? What can you say about them ?

danielgabrielMOSUL15 karma

Back then, they were called the "Army of Northern Virginia". The absolute best of the US-military's best - and a highly-secretive group that receives its authories under Joint Special Forces Command (JSOC). CIA officers routinely work down-range in the same dangerous environs, but the authority for ISA's hunter-killer missions comes directly from the president. Read "Top Secret America" by Dana Priest for some good insight into them.

moragisdo3 karma


texag195 karma

Another fantastic read about the history of JSOC and their relationship with the intel agencies, and one that talks quite a good deal about TF Orange, is called “relentless strike” by Sean Naylor. HIGHLY recommend

danielgabrielMOSUL2 karma

GREAT book. Second that recommendation!

Crash9952 karma

Hello Dan! Two questions. Did you have a moment where you were absolutely shocked by the behaviour of the terrorists? As in almost stunned.

What was your biggest sucess?

danielgabrielMOSUL9 karma

After seeing the depravity - the propaganda DVDs, etc - going back to my first days in Iraq (2004), I have become somewhat numb to it. We faced a larger ethical question of what to include - or not include. During the introduction of the film, when Ali is setting the stage for the coming battle, we made the difficult decision to include actual ISIS footage of atrocities that were SO real, they truly looked FAKE: burning Christians alive; throwing gays from rooftops, that sort of stuff. In post-production we scaled it back quite a bit - so that we still show the abhorrent evilness, but does not bleed into war porn.

fearection132 karma

What is your favorite or most admirable trait of the people of Mosul?

danielgabrielMOSUL5 karma

Few people have suffered as much as the people of MOSUL, during the past 16 years. I can only hope that their bravery and determination shows thru in the film.

TheDiscordedSnarl2 karma

Do you think if Isis or groups like it actually "won", they'd turn on each other over the one "true way" because of their zeal and belief? When they're not fighting outsiders they're fighting each other?

danielgabrielMOSUL5 karma

ISIS worked on a model where local ‘Emirs’ were delegated control of local towns and districts. There is evidence that some ‘Emirs’ competed with each other and had different opinions on how to operate - such as treating the population harshly or more leniently. This may have been because some Emirs were foreign fighters with certain opinions on issues and others may have been local Emirs with either more radical or conservative opinions. Iraqi ISIS were often different to Syrian/Foreign ISIS fighters. Also, it must be remembered that ISIS was a massive organized crime operation with millions being generated each week.

SO.....would they’ve ended up fighting each other? I think you're onto something - probably as they competed for control of money, resources and influence.

Kalashnikov-Koncern2 karma

Are the small arms of ISIS in Iraq mostly stock that’s been in country for a while (former stores of saddam’s various Romanian and Hungarian Kalashnikov orders and Iraqi produced tabuks.) and things captured during the Iraqi army’s retreat; or is there a large amount of small arms coming in from other places?

danielgabrielMOSUL7 karma

They most likely obtained small arms from wherever they could get hold of them. There were a mixture of Russian/Eastern European weapons (AK variants, Dragunovs, PKMs etc) and also weapons supplied by the US and allies to the Iraqi army and police. There are videos of ISIS using captured NATO anti-tank weapons as well as soviet-era variants.

skilledsapper1 karma

Hello Mr. Gabriel how many terrorists live in North America?

danielgabrielMOSUL5 karma

More than 1.

skilledsapper1 karma

Haha ohh ok, is someone keeping tabs on them at least?

danielgabrielMOSUL7 karma

Hopefully the FBI.

gunnerslo991 karma

How did you join the CIA and why?

danielgabrielMOSUL8 karma

Like many in my generation (I'm 41), the events of 9/11 and it's aftermath drove me to want to understand the nature of the threat against the US - and the ideology that was behind the attacks. The CIA's strategic mission was ground zero for confronting that evil head-on, and I was lucky enough to be part of the first class of DO officers recruited after that terrible date.

JustTheWriter1 karma

Hey Dan, it's K.S. Three-part question:

• What do you think were the geopolitical or social factors that allowed Daesh to proliferate so quickly?

• How much, if any, opposition did Daesh meet with from other Islamist terror organizations?

• What is the state of Daesh as of now and what do the future threats to and from those regions formerly held by Daesh look like?

Thanks for doing this.

danielgabrielMOSUL5 karma

Thx, K.S! To your first point, Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS) exploited a leadership vacuum that existed in Iraq a the time which was manifested by political, economic and security woes. Populations in these situations tend to move towards those who offer the promise of security and better times.

angrybitcoin1 karma

How does it feel to work for an organization which has been involved in overthrowing dozens of democratically elected governments worldwide and has historically supported every piece of filth dictator and deathsquad imaginable so long as they were willing to support America's "interests" in the region?

How does it feel to work for an organization which supported both Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria so as to force regime change and get rid of Assad, all for the benefit of Israel and to do damage to the Russian economy by building an oil pipeline from Qatar on Syrian territory?

How does it feel to work for an organization that deliberately supported, aided, and abetted the creation of Al-Qaeda in the 1970's so that they would fight the Soviets in Afghanistan? And not only that, but then this same organization, which was supported by the CIA in the first place, then proceeded to murder 3000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, an event which led to massive surveillance, which just so happens to benefit the same government you work for, in America?

How does it feel to lie to the American people on a daily basis?

1-2-switch1 karma

How does it feel to spend all that time typing out these off-topic (remembering the topic of the AMA is specifically questions about the MOSUL documentary), only to be ignored?

I'm not saying you're wrong, it's just a poor avenue for questioning. Are you American? If so you should be demanding this accountability from your leaders.

The 'agencies' are just attack dogs set loose by their handlers. So demand answers from the handlers.

angrybitcoin6 karma

The attack dogs are just as reponsible for their actions as their leaders. As for Daniel, he is producing propaganda on the behalf of his masters. He deserves the hard questions.

danielgabrielMOSUL8 karma

Bring them!

bishoptheblack-1 karma

how did you get the video past the publication review board?

danielgabrielMOSUL9 karma

Other than my prior service to the organization, I was not aware the CIA plays a role in this film. Do you know otherwise?

Rickiana-3 karma

There was no ISIS nor AQ in Iraq before US invaded Iraq. They came only after the invasion. How so you feel now about thr US illegal invasion?

danielgabrielMOSUL16 karma

I think Michael Moore has extensively covered the merits and wisdom - or lack thereof - of the US invasion of Iraq. So: this is a different story. MOSUL is an Iraqi story; it's about the various ethnic groups in Iraq putting aside their differences to form an uneasy alliance that ultimately confronts and defeats ISIS in Iraq. The people of MOSUL didn't have a say in the geo-politics of 2002-2003, but nevertheless, I felt it was important to show their experiences of life under ISIS control - and the events and key figures that led to ISIS' defeat.

Highroller52-5 karma

How does it feel ruining Iraq for a bunch of lies and then giving it away to an enemy you're now trying to start a war with?

danielgabrielMOSUL6 karma

Excellent question. You can find the answer here:

MistaBoJang89-6 karma

How do you feel about your part in the rise of ISIS?

danielgabrielMOSUL12 karma

You must have misread my affiliation. It is generally understood and acknowledged that the CIA doesn't get along with ISIS. Do you have information to the contrary that you would like to share with us?

danielgabrielMOSUL5 karma

I didn't think anyone still reads Newsweek. Thanks for sharing that.

tansim-7 karma

When does the US finally plan to leave the me, so that locals may live in peace under their own leadership? In particular about eastern Syria, does the CIA concede that US and SDF/PKK presence in arab tribal areas severely fuels the ISIS insurgency in the region?

danielgabrielMOSUL9 karma

To your first point, the CIA is an intelligence agency that provides information to policymakers who ultimately make those decisions. The politicial decision of what the US foot-print should be in the ME is up to the National Command Authority. My understanding is that President Trump would agree with you; that it's time for the US to disengage. But, I digress.