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In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims

An Islamic flag atop the White House in “The Third Jihad.”

An Islamic flag atop the White House in “The Third Jihad.”

In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims

By MICHAEL POWELL

Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen: Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying over the White House.

“This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America,” a narrator intones. “A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America. … This is the war you don’t know about.”

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.

News that police trainers showed this film so extensively comes as the department wrestles with its relationship with the city’s large Muslim community. The Police Department offers no apology for aggressively spying on Muslim groups and says it has ferreted out terror plots.

But members of the City Council, civil rights advocates and Muslim leaders say the department, in its zeal, has trampled on civil rights, blurred lines between foreign and domestic spying and sown fear among Muslims.

“The department’s response was to deny it and to fight our request for information,” said Faiza Patel, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which obtained the release of the documents through a Freedom of Information request. “The police have shown an explosive documentary to its officers and simply stonewalled us.”

Tom Robbins, a former columnist with The Village Voice, first revealed that the police had screened the film. The Brennan Center then filed its request.

The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.

Commissioner Kelly is listed on the “Third Jihad” Web site as a “featured interviewee.” Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that filmmakers had lifted the clip from an old interview. The commissioner, Mr. Browne said, has not asked the filmmakers to remove him from its Web site, or to clarify that he had not cooperated with them.

None of the documents turned over to the Brennan Center make clear which police officials approved the showing of this film during training. Department lawyers blacked out large swaths of these internal memorandums.

Repeated calls over the past several days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any territorial concessions on the West Bank. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

Clarion’s financing is a puzzle. Its federal income tax forms show contributions, grants and revenues typically hover around $1 million annually — except in 2008, when it booked contributions of $18.3 million. That same year, Clarion produced “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The Clarion Fund used its surge in contributions to pay to distribute tens of millions of copies of this DVD in swing electoral states across the country in September 2008.

“The Third Jihad” is quite similar, in style and content, to that earlier film. Narrated by Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim doctor and former American military officer in Arizona, “The Third Jihad” casts a broad shadow over American Muslims. Few Muslim leaders, it states, can be trusted.

“Americans are being told that many of the mainstream Muslim groups are also moderate,” Mr. Jasser states. “When in fact if you look a little closer, you’ll see a very different reality. One of their primary tactics is deception.”

Footage of an interview with the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, is used in the movie.

Footage of an interview with the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, is used in the movie.

The film posits that there were three jihads: One at the time of Muhammad, a second in the Middle Ages and a third that is under way covertly throughout the West today.

This is, the film claims, “the 1,400-year war.”

How the film came to be used in police training, and even for how long, was not clear. An undated memorandum from the department’s commanding officer for specialized training noted that an employee of the federal Department of Homeland Security handed the DVD to the New York police in January 2010. Since then, this officer said, the video was shown continuously “during the sign-in, medical and administrative orientation process.” A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said it was never used in its curriculum, and might have come from a contractor.

As it turned out, it was police officers who blew the whistle after watching the film. Late in 2010, Mr. Robbins contacted an officer who spoke of his unease with the film; another officer, said Zead Ramadan, the New York president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, talked of seeing it during a training session the previous summer. “The officer was completely offended by it as a Muslim,” Mr. Ramadan said. “It defiled our faith and misrepresented everything we stood for.”

When the news broke about the movie last year, Mr. Browne called it a “wacky film” that had been shown “only a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual course work began.”

He made no more public comments. Privately, two days later, he asked the Police Academy to determine whether a terrorism awareness training program had used the video, according to the documents.

The academy’s commander reported back on March 23, 2011, that the film had been viewed by 68 lieutenants, 159 sergeants, 31 detectives and 1,231 patrol officers. The department never made those findings public.

And just one week later, the Brennan Center officially requested the same information, starting what turned out to be a nine-month legal battle to obtain it.

“It suggests a broader problem that they refuse to divulge this information much less to discuss it,” Ms. Patel of the Brennan Center said. “The training of the world’s largest city police force is an important question.”

Mr. Browne said he had been unaware of the higher viewership of the film until asked about it by The New York Times last week.

There is the question of the officers who viewed the movie during training. Mr. Browne said the Police Department had no plans to correct any false impressions the movie might have left behind.

“There’s no plan to contact officers who saw it,” he said, or to “add other programming as a result.”

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  • “The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan.”

    Yes, of course. The Clarion Fund has some involvement with Geert Wilders 2009 trips to the US, as well as David Horowitz.

    Some of the most crazy of the Islamophobes have some connection or admoration to Ronald Reagan, Margrot Thatcher and Anglo-American right-wing. Check out those political figures who say “Islam is a problem” in some form or another – and you will see a past of admoration for Reagan, Thatcher and the American Republican party.

    And – Huntington states in the opening of his book – that “America needs enemies after the Soviet union.” “Islam” is the new Soviet communism and “Muslims” the new “Soviets.”

    Anglo-American idology will keep itself alive by ANY means..!

  • excellent post Zak,

    Whilst I don’t have a problem with Muslims criticising our own miscreants, or wanting change or reform, how does allying yourself with Islamophobes achieve that? Surely even he can see that. He can’t find better sincere allies?

    I think it is time, someone dug into Zuhdi Jasser’s past. I’m certain he is hiding something. Maybe he has secretly converted to another religon, and is being paid to pretend he is still one, or maybe he genuninely believes this is the right way for reform? Sheeeeeeeeesh, I sure it is not the latter. Nobody can be that stupid, unless they are mentally ill.

  • Franczeska

    “Hopper”=Barry Sommer.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    I’ve had my suspicions about Zuhdi Jasser for a long time. Oh sure, there are liberal Muslims, many more liberal than me. There are Muslims who skip prayers, drink alcohol, drink pork, have pre-marital sex, never intend to make the Hajj and all that stuff. There are Muslims who are critical of our brothers, who don’t like CAIR and other organizations, and who are trying to radically reform Islam for better or worse.

    The thing is… no matter how different they are from the rest of us, no matter how lax or misguided they may seem, one cannot doubt their sincerity. I’ve noticed it all the moreso with western Muslims, and especially with converts, but they all have a certain degree of enthusiasm about their beliefs and interpretations. They may not be very traditional or orthodox, but they still see themselves as Muslims, and they will debate with you until the cows come home about how Islam and the Holy Quran support their particular view point.

    Zuhdi Jasser doesn’t. He consistently sides with anti-Muslim polemicists like Pamella Geller, Danielle Pipes and Robert Spencer. Most of his supporters are non-Muslim, and indeed vocally anti-Islam. Jasser opposes the so-called Ground Zero mosque, supports Lowes boycott of All-American Muslim, appears in the Clarion Fund’s movies bashing Islam, and basically does everything he can to make himself an opponent of the rest of the Muslim world.

    Which raises some serious questions. What, if anything, does he support within our faith? He CLAIMS to donate to the construction of mosques in the US, but I don’t know of any that were ever affiliated with him, nor would they WANT to. Anyone can make a claim like that, especially when they don’t drop names. Likewise, he CLAIMS that he is raising his children as Muslims, but their names are not publicly known. I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that he didn’t name his children “Muhammd,” “Tariq” or “Husayn.” In fact, I’d be willing to bet they might be something more like “Jonathan,” “Robert” or “Andrew.” And finally, why does he feel such a strong need to earn support from like likes of Geller and Pipes? Is he that insecure that their friendship means something to him?

    If I had to a hazard a guess, I would say that Jasser is not a Muslim at all, and may never have been one. My guess would be either atheist or a convert to born-again style Christianity. That would explain his blatant hostility towards Islam, but also his attempts to paint himself as a Muslim reformer. Anti-Muslim bigots are a dime a dozen. For every Pamella Geller, there’s a Debbie Schlussel, a less successful, less famous, and less wealthy blogger who copy-pastes the same arguments and ad hominem attacks on Islam, Muhammad, and the entire Muslim population. Even former Muslims (real and fake; far more fake though) are a common enough phenomena. We’ve all seen Ergun Caner and what’s his name, the “ex-terrorist.”

    But… Muslim reformers. Well, that’s another matter entirely. He’s got dusky skin, a ‘foreign sounding’ name, and supposed insights on the faith that light skinned people apparently can’t have. He can paint himself as the good guy, the hero faithfully struggling against the rest of us heathens, who are naturally ignorant of our own beliefs. In fact, he can make the most outlandish, violent claims about Islam, and then fall back on the meek defense that “but I don’t hate Muslims because I am a Muslim.” That mollifies people, especially liberals with their whole white guilt thing. It sets him apart from the likes of Spencer and company too, because no matter how much they paint themselves as “Muslim scholars,” they will always be viewed as ‘Americans,’ and by extension, outsiders looking in.

  • khushboo

    “This is Goebbels-grade stuff”

    It certainly is!

  • Reynardine

    This is Goebbels-grade stuff.

  • H. Torrance Griffin

    In short: The Muslims are a Hivemind and any who proclaim friendship are plotting to knife you in the back.

    Heard it all before about White People. Do not buy it then and do not buy it now….

  • Justiceadreamaway

    prejudices*

  • Justiceadreamaway

    Sadly this is the real reason, they keep the masses dumbed down. Its In order to control their perceptions and ultimately their actions.

    Many people escape this systematic attempt to turn us into mind and soul slaves. But sadly many sucumb to it. The ruling class and those who manipulate our entire surroundings knew very well that most of the officers whom watched the film will as a result hold predujices and as result show no remorse, empathy or respect for any Muslim looking individual. Its a police state for all but for Muslim’s it even worse.

  • Ahmed

    Honestly, this is fantasy to have the police watch videos that do not represent reality and fear monger. This will help nothing but to make fear.

  • Ahmed

    @Young and Free

    Zuhdi Jasser is just a right-winger. He just supports neo-cons, i dont think he is honest at all

  • Young & Free

    “Americans are being told that many of the mainstream Muslim groups are also moderate,” Mr. Jasser states. “When in fact if you look a little closer, you’ll see a very different reality. One of their primary tactics is deception.”

    Jasser’s only tactic is deception.

    I don’t believe he is Muslim at all. To be Muslim, you must believe in the hereafter, and Jasser told Glenn Beck he doesn’t!

    “These are just metaphors, trying to have Muslims believe that God judges us, that the day of judgement and this eschatology that we’re discussing has some type of relevance ”

  • Farlowe

    Most of the stuff Hopper describes (except for the flying jumbos into buildings) does not happen in America. So why would the American cops need to know about that anyway? American cops should be trained with information that is relevant to their tasks. Would it be relevant for Australian police to be told about the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa? Nope.

  • Crow

    do you enjoy the violence and carnage in the film hoppy? It’s called a movie because the things in it are’nt REAL. Got that, now I know most right wingers are gutless cowards who have a hard time telling made up movies from their sad little lives. Are there some so-called muslim that commit violence? Yes. But for the biggest part Muslims are peaceful. Actually I’m worried you might be a serial killer as serial killers are overwhelmingly white . So hoppy remember third jihad is a movie and as such not real.

  • How droll Hopper.

    However to give the full picture we should actually be covering both sides of the story; looking at what motivated these people to do these terrible acts. And of course pictures of devastation by good old NATO in various nations, represented as part of a plot by the US and Christians to take over the world. Move along Mr Hopper, move along. No doubt you’ll pop up with some wisdom in another thread.

    Jack

  • Hopper

    This indeed may be a troubling film, and we’re not getting the whole story. Though I haven’t seen the flick, the author of this piece mentions images of Muslim terrorists shooting Christians in the head, car bombs exploding, and executed children lying in the street covered by sheets.
    Where are the images of aid workers being lined up and shot, journalists being beheaded, acid being thrown in the faces of school girls, thieves having their hands amputated, gay teenagers being hanged, young lovers being stoned to death, and jumbo jets being flown into skyscrapers?
    Shouldn’t Americans, and the police who are sworn to protect and serve us, be shown these images, too?

  • khushboo

    These films are like the german propaganda films of the 1930s that showed Jews as vermin to dehumanize them.”

    Looks like history repeating itself. 🙁

  • khushboo

    Good question Christian Friend but why even watch this trash?

  • Al

    More reasons NOT to trust the police…

  • Christian Friend

    the question remains: are the polices officers brainwashed by this film or they know that it really is a bunch of trash?

  • Crow

    These films are like the german propaganda films of the 1930s that showed Jews as vermin to dehumanize them. Films like this and the garbage wilders show seek to dehumanize Muslims by portraying them as mindless killers. The NYPD should be very ashamed.

  • Pamela Jeller

    This needs to sto and now. That thing of a police officer completely lied when it denied that the film had been used.

    STOP THE HATRED

  • mindy1

    How very Orwellian to show a movie insulting the Other, and making them look less human 🙁

  • juju

    Favorite paragraph: “The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.”

    This shows how interlinked everything is with everyone.

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