Like countless other political exiles in London, says Colin Freeman in The Daily Telegraph, “Sami Sadat dreams of freeing his country from tyranny”. A dream is all it may ever be: his homeland is Afghanistan, where he was a top general until America “abandoned it to the Taliban” last year. Forced to flee, he has vowed to “raise a new army and return to end Taliban rule”. Sadat is the star of Retrograde, a new documentary that offers an “uncomfortable ring-side seat” on his losing battle with the theocratic warlords. His attempts to rally the troops put him in the “top three” on the Taliban’s kill list, and he had to dodge 17 suicide bombers sent to kill him. One got close enough for the blast to burst his right eardrum.
The film’s title refers to US forces going into “retrograde” mode – military-speak for getting ready to retreat. This involved destroying valuable equipment to stop it falling into enemy hands: American troops are shown “taking sledgehammers to photocopiers and flatscreen TVs, and firing vast amounts of mortars into empty desert”. Anxious as Sadat is to get back to Kabul, he loves Britain’s “people, museums and history”. He refused offers to relocate to America after hearing Joe Biden say Afghan troops were “not willing to fight for themselves”. “Biden,” he says, “is an asshole.”