Part of the team that brought you The Hangover trilogy is about to tackle a much more serious topic for an upcoming HBO series. Based on Joby Warrick’s Pulitizer prize-winning nonfiction novel “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” the premium cable network is developing a Black Flags miniseries with Joint Effort’s Bradley Cooper and Todd Philips as executive producers. Gregg Hurwitz (V, The Book of Henry) is already attached to write the adaptation and will also act as executive producer. As Deadline reports, perennial HBO director Tim Van Patten will once again be at the helm in addition to his own executive producer duties.
As the title suggests, Black Flags would tell the story of the rise of ISIS from its unlikely origins to its current spread of terroristic ideals across Syria and Iraq, with tendrils of fear and influence spreading throughout the world. There’s also an angle on the small group of American and international agents who attempt to shut the organization down. Cooper reportedly read Warrick’s book and then reached out to him along with Phillips, envisioning his story as a limited series. This news comes just as Cooper and Phillips’ production War Dogs is about to hit theaters on August 19th.
Here’s the synopsis of Warrick’s book (via Amazon):
When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout in 2006.
His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.