The New York Police Department is facing intense scrutiny following revelations Monday that a film about the threat of radical Islam was screened to nearly 1,500 officers during training.
Critics of the 2008 documentary “The Third Jihad” have denounced it as “anti-Islam” and “hate-filled.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations called it “anti-Muslim propaganda.” The 72-minute film exposes what it calls a strategy by radical Muslims to “infiltrate and dominate America,” and features grisly images from jihadist terror attacks, Muslim leaders calling for an Islamic world order, and goes after CAIR, among other organizations, for having radical ties.
“Islamism is like a cancer,” one interviewee says. “You either defeat it or it will defeat you.”
News that the film was shown during NYPD training first broke in January 2011: NYPD spokesman Paul Browne initially told the New York Village Voice that officers never saw the film, calling it a “wacky movie” that was “reviewed and found to be inappropriate.” Browne later amended that statement, saying that upon further review the film had been shown “a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual coursework began.”
“It was not approved for the curriculum. It’s not shown for any purpose now,” Browne told the Village Voice.
But one year later, documents obtained through the state’s Freedom of Information Law indicated otherwise: The film was shown “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training, and was seen by at least 1,489 police officers, the New York Times reported Monday.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday blasted the police department, saying someone had used “terrible judgment” in showing the film.
“Somebody exercised some terrible judgment,” Bloomberg said. “As soon as they found out about it, they stopped it.”
Of particular note was the fact that New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly himself appeared in the film as an interviewee: On Monday, Browne said Kelly’s appearance was lifted from old interview footage. But the next day, the police department shifted and confirmed Kelly did participate, after the film’s producer provided the date and time of the interview to the Times. Kelly said he regrets appearing in the film.
Others featured include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former CIA Director James Woolsey, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman and about a dozen other intelligence and Middle East experts and activists.
CAIR used the NYPD’s admission to call for the resignations of both Kelly and Browne — coming at a time when sentiments between CAIR and the NYPD are particularly inflamed over recent reports that the police department used spy tactics to keep tabs on Muslim groups in an effort to catch terrorists.
“This controversy has moved beyond an issue of poor judgment in the use of an Islamophobic training film to an issue of the integrity of public officials,” CAIR said in a statement Wednesday. “The lack of truthfulness exhibited by Commissioner Kelly and Deputy Commissioner Browne means New Yorkers must now question the credibility of every statement they make. This situation necessitates their immediate resignations.”
But despite seething objections that the film is anti-Muslim and anti-Islam, “The Third Jihad” explicitly states that it is about radicalism only.
“This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are radical,” a statement reads at the beginning of the film.
Narrated by Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the film describes what it says is the true agenda of much of the Muslim leadership in America: A kind of “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” based on a 15-page manifesto from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Among the strategies outlined in the document, the film says, are to set up mosques and Islamic centers to achieve the ultimate goal of “sabotaging the miserable houses of the West so that Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Organizations listed that can help carry out these goals include the Muslim Students Association, the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Association for Palestine — a Hamas-linked organization whose three officers founded CAIR in the 1990s.
“Islam will dominate….We want to see Shariah here, and it will be,” a member of the New York-based Islamic Thinkers Society vows in one clip.
The film shows several images taken from Muslim websites: An Islamic flag flying over the White House, an hourglass depicting the inevitability of countries around the world falling to Islam and an American flag with the words “Under Shaytan Authority.” In Islamic theology, “shaytan” is the term for “devil.”
“When groups like these talk about wanting to create a global Islamic state and Islam dominating the world, you realize that they hold some of the same goals as Al Qaida and millions of radicals around the world, and that’s what make them dangerous,” Jasser narrates.
‘A slander against the film’
In a telephone interview with The Blaze, Jasser — who has been a repeat guest on Glenn Beck’s show — said the media’s treatment of the film as “anti-Muslim” shows “the death of journalism.”
“[The film] is a wake up call to the threat that is in our community,” he said. “Not one report has attacked the facts in the documentary. To call it anti-Muslim is slander against the film.”
He said CAIR’s announcement Wednesday that it’s calling for the NYPD commissioner’s resignation shows the organization only wants to use the situation “as a tool to attack Commissioner Kelly.”
“What type of documentary does CAIR want shown?” he asked. He said he finds it curious that it’s suddenly become “a major federal crime” that the film was shown to a group of police officers when it’s been available online for the past several years.
“The more [CAIR] can take up the bandwidth of the discussion about the threat of the radical Islam with victimization issues…the less work they have to do for reform,” Jasser said. “They don’t want anybody becoming educated about the slippery slope of political Islam, which is the movement of trying to put into place their own Shariah law…they look upon us as not just a faith group but as a global political movement.”
Alex Traiman, a spokesman for the Clarion Fund, which financed the film, said he also sees the response to the current media controversy as “CAIR trying to take down the New York Police Department.” According to its website, the Clarion Fund is a nonprofit organization that “produces and distributes documentaries on the threats of radical Islam” and lists former Reagan deputy defense secretary and Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney Jr. among its advisory board members.
In a telephone interview with The Blaze, Traiman referred to CAIR’s response as “their tried and true method of demonizing anyone who asks real questions by just labeling it Islamophobia.”
“CAIR is targeted specifically in our film for doing exactly what they’re doing now,” he said.
Despite the controversy, Jasser said he stands firmly behind the film.
“The reason I agreed to narrate is that there are many of us within the Muslim community that are a part of, if you will, a “jihad against jihad,” he said. “I’d much rather have people see that a Muslim is part of the solution. The solution has to come from within.”
Watch an abbreviated version of “The Third Jihad” below: