- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2007

NEW YORK — Clear your TV-viewing calendar next week.

PBS has brought together “America at a Crossroads,” a six-night television package that explores challenges confronting the United States in the post-September 11 world.

Topics to be tackled include the war on terrorism, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience of American troops serving abroad, the struggle for balance within the Muslim world, and global perspectives on America’s role overseas.

The series, airing Sunday through Friday from 9 to 11 p.m., consists of 11 documentaries from a variety of producers probing urgent issues in a variety of voices. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting developed the initial concept, issuing an open call for film projects. Veteran journalist Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor of PBS’ “NewsHour,” serves as series host.

Here is the lineup:

• Sunday, 9 p.m.: “Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind al Qaeda” provides an in-depth look at radical Islamic groups as well as the ideas and beliefs that inspire them. It focuses on al Queda leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was killed last June.

• Monday, 9 p.m.: “Warriors” profiles American soldiers — five men and one woman — as they serve in Baghdad in 2005, coping with its dangers and difficulties.

• Monday, 10 p.m.: “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” is built upon a project created by the National Endowment for the Arts to gather the writing of servicemen and -women who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With dramatic readings, it covers a full literary spectrum — poetry, fiction, memoir, letters, journals and essays — in expressing the wartime experience.

• Tuesday, 9 p.m.: “Gangs of Iraq” examines the failure of an extensive and costly four-year training effort by the United States to “stand up” Iraq’s new army and police forces and how these coalition-trained forces have been infiltrated by violent sectarian militias. This film was co-produced by “Frontline.”

• Tuesday, 10 p.m.: “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom” follows former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle as he travels the globe articulating and debating the neoconservative case for the war in Iraq and an assertive American foreign policy.

• Wednesday, 9 p.m.: “Europe’s 9/11” explores homegrown terrorism through the lens of the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid. It draws connections between those bombers and al Qaeda cell activities in Milan, Italy, as well as the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in November 2004.

• Wednesday, 10 p.m.: “The Muslim Americans” chronicles the diversity of Muslims in America while contrasting life for them after September 11 in the United States with the lives of Muslims in Europe. This film was produced in conjunction with “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.”

• Thursday, 9 p.m.: “Faith Without Fear” joins Irshad Manji (best-selling author of “The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith”) on a quest to reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom. One of many people she meets is Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, who explains why he’s willing to turn his young son into a martyr.

• Thursday, 10 p.m.: “Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia” travels to a nation where the practice of Islam reflects a centuries-old tradition of tolerance, compassion and inclusiveness. Even so, in recent years Indonesia has become both a target and a breeding ground for Islamic militants — and the arrival of democracy in 1998 has proved to be a factor in the rise of violence.

• Friday, 9 p.m.: “Security Versus Liberty: The Other War” tells three stories arising from new government policies after September 11 that, in the name of preventing future terrorist attacks, may have damaged individual liberties.

• Friday, 10 p.m.: “The Brotherhood” investigates a secretive international movement dedicated to the spread of a fundamental version of Islam throughout the world. This movement may also be offering support and encouragement to terrorists.

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