While journalist Assia Boundaoui investigates the rumours about surveillance in her Arab district in Chicago, she discovers a huge, long-term counterterrorism investigation by the FBI. The deeper she digs, the more she discovers about the eerie ‘Operation Vulgar Betrayal’ and its far-reaching impact on the lives of her family and neighbours.
Although Assia Boundaoui has Algerian roots, she grew up in an Arab district in Chicago. As long as she can remember, she always felt as if she was living under a microscope. Her family members and friends also know what it is like to be watched. As a journalist, Assia considers it her duty to find out where this feeling comes from. She interviews family members and neighbours and dives deep into the archives. And as it turns out... the FBI has been conducting investigations in the Arab district since the 1990s under the name Operation Vulgar Betrayal, searching for possible ties to terrorist organisations. However, it becomes apparent that there was never a shred of evidence for ties to jihadism or Islamic extremism.
In this remarkable documentary, the filmmaker – sometimes plagued by fear, but mainly driven by anger – takes on the FBI with courage and determination, eventually even managing to drag them to court.
The Feeling of Being Watched has been selected for the Activist competition and will be screened at Movies that Matter Festival 2019 (22-30 March, The Hague).