It was revealed in January 2011 that the NYPD was using an anti-Muslim documentary entitled “The Third Jihad” in its counter terror training courses. At the time “a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened ‘a couple of times’ for a few officers.”
It turns out that the police official was lying, it had been screened for thousands of police 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.
We exposed the Third Jihad way back in 2009 when it was first released! We clearly laid out the facts: (1) Clarion Fund is an arm of Aish HaTorah, an Israeli advocacy and educational organization:
According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International.
(2) Clarion Fund’s free mass distribution of the anti-Muslim movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West (also directed by Shore) a few months prior to the 2008 presidential election was an attempt to sway the election in John McCain’s favor:
Unless you were sleeping in a cave during the 2008 Presidential election you’re probably aware that the mysterious Clarion Fund is the same organization that distributed 28 Million DVD’s of their controversial film Obsession, which compares Islam to Nazism, in newspapers in swing states across America.
The movie was widely discredited for its cast of radical and extreme pundits, some of whom (Daniel Pipes, Brigitte Gabriel, Walid Shoebat, Steven Emerson) we have featured on LoonWatch. As our articles showed, these Islamophobes have a history of bigoted and derogatory statements regarding Muslims and Islam.
The film itself was compared to Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 pro-Nazi film Triumph of the Will. Broward-Palm Beach New Times called it “misleading and dangerous.” Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.”
During the campaign to distribute Obsession, news reports at the time quickly revealed that their main motivation was to shift the focus during the Presidential election from the Economy to the issue of National Security, the area in which John McCain led in polls.
Shore and his cohorts efforts failed as they over-reached in their attempt to paint the radical-stealth-Islamic boogeyman menace to America as similar to Nazism during WWII. They changed tactic with the Third Jihad and attempted to redirect the hate, though they only offered a thin vanilla (Zuhdi Jasser) covering for the bigotry that is clearly all over the film:
Third Jihad paints a picture of a nefarious plot by a cabal that includes all mainstream Muslim organizations to take over and dominate America. The movie, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, centers around the purported discovery of a document describing a strategic secret plot by Muslims to undermine Democracy and replace it with Sharia’ laws.
The recent exposes in the mainstream media showing that thousands of NYPD officers have watched the anti-Muslim films, coupled with Ray Kelly himself being interviewed in the film has caused much embarrassment to the NYPD, which is already suffering from poor relations with the Muslim community. The NYPD and Ray Kelly have apologized, (Kelly now calls the movie “inflammatory”), but many are calling for Kelly to be fired.
In a press release Raphael Shore complained about his anti-Muslim film being dumped from the training of NYPD officers:
“We regret that the film has been taken out of the counterterrorism training program of the NYPD. The New York Times stories are proof positive that the Clarion Fund’s high-quality and impactful documentaries touch very sensitive nerves.
“Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal state of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats.
Yes, Raphael is concerned with the “internal state of the Muslim community in America”/sarcasm. He’s as concerned about it as Pamela Geller is no doubt. The truth is Raphael, your hate work on Islam is no longer going to get a free pass. People can see the nexus that aligns Right-Wing Islamophobes abroad and at home and they are tired of it.
The Third Jihad is essentially an updated and reconfigured version of Obsession or as some have called it “Obsession on steroids.” Instead of the overt comparisons of Islam with Nazism, or of a cosmic battle between good and evil, the object this time is to warn against a threat they term “Cultural Jihad” carried out from within by American Muslims.
In Third Jihad, just as in Obsession, there is the cliche disclaimer at the start of the film that the movie is not about the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, yet in Third Jihad just as in Obsession, the rest of the film quickly and completely trumps what becomes an empty disclaimer. Both films fail to make consistent distinctions between Islam and Radical Islamism, and at times conflate the two. As the IPS (Inter Press Service) notes:
Radical Muslims, by having children, spreading their faith, and ensuring their ability to practice Islam as they see fit, are working a ‘demographic jihad’ in which they see themselves emerging as a majority and making Islam the dominant religion of the U.S. – eventually to take over the nation altogether – contend Jasser and the films creators.
But that prospect seems unlikely in the U.S., where Muslim Americans are generally regarded as well-assimilated and not radicalised.
The film itself also contains inconsistencies in terms of differentiating between Islam and radical Islam.
For example, the graphic that the film used to demonstrate the spread of an Islamic state across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe used a tiled picture of a green crescent with a star between its points. The crescent and star are the symbol of Islam in general.
The documentary was produced by the Clarion Fund, a U.S.-based non-profit that was embroiled in controversy last year when it distributed its last movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to nearly 30 million homes in the ‘swing states’ that normally decide U.S. presidential elections.
Its 501(c)(3) status as non-profit means the group is legally exempt from paying taxes and is prohibited from involvement in electoral politics.
IPS investigations also tied the production and distribution of “Obsession” to right-wing Israeli groups and U.S.-based neoconservatives.
The central focus of the film is the purported discovery of a document which claims Muslim organizations are seeking to “destroy” the West from within and replace Democracy with Islamic law worldwide. This ploy is similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which is a tract alleging a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination. Purportedly written by a secret group of Jews known as the Elders of Zion, the document underlies 24 protocols that are supposedly followed by the Jewish people.
The movie also suffers from a lack of credibility with most of the pundits it chooses to interview. For example one of the pundits is Tawfiq Hamid (!) who is labeled an ex-terrorist. Tawfiq’s story is not corroborated by any independent sources, he has also made blatant statements describing Muslims as terrorists and Islam as evil. On the Orla Barry Show he stated, “the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.” He is also featured on radical Islamophobe Walid Shoebat’s website and has appeared with him on talk shows and other venues.
This hate movie is available online and its central protagonist is Zuhdi Jasser who is also the narrator of the film. Jasser is cast as an all American hero, clips of him having moments with his family are reminiscent of episodes out of Full House, complete with sentimental muzak equivalent to the quality one hears in elevators. Jasser is the lone American Muslim (all the others are either “scared” or “silent”) standing up against radicals. He is the “moderate” who is seeking to reform Islam while at the same time save America from the ignored threat of “homegrown radical Muslims.”
Is Jasser an unbiased chronicler of American Islam, and is he the right advocate to counter radical Muslims?
Considering his radical associations and partisan attachment to the far right wing of the Republican party, the answers are no.
As Richard Silverstein writes, “To put it plain and simple, Jasser is a Muslim neocon.” He created a 501c3 designated organization AIFD (American Islamic forum for Democracy) whose agenda is a “barely concealed” form of radical Republicanism. 501c3 designated organizations are not allowed to meddle in partisan politics.
Jasser has himself publicly participated in the political process. In this endorsement of a far-right pro-Israel Colorado Republican legislative candidate, he strangely takes aim at the candidate’s Republican American Muslim opponent:
“A brief word about Mr. Sharf’s primary opponent. Mrs. Rima Barakat Sinclair has no apparent record, prior to this election of…any traditional conservative issues. Previously, her sole political agenda seems to have been anti-Israel activism. Her candidacy seems to be more a product of Islamist politics than of ideas central to conservative American principles and activism. Sadly, candidates out of this mold, who conflate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis with their Islamic identity actually harm more than they help the genuine pluralistic advancement of American Muslims. Most Muslims are actually quite diverse in their domestic and foreign policy politics and do not accept the collectivist agenda of political Islam (Islamism).”
It is certainly no accident that Sinclair’s opponent, Joshua Scharf, is a right-wing pro-Israel militant.
In this National Review interview, Jasser enthusiastically promotes a Republican agenda:
“Lopez: Do you like what you’re hearing out of any of the presidential candidates?
Jasser: (First a necessary caveat – the following is my personal opinion only and in no way that of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy).
Yes, I think most of the Republican presidential field is much more honest than the Democrats in articulating the real stakes in this war of ideas of the free world versus the Islamists. While most of the Republican candidates are in the right anti-Islamist arena, only a few have been able to articulate it clearly enough and with enough candor to get my attention. I am far from making up my mind on a candidate yet, but am encouraged by a lot of what I see from some of the candidates.
I am most heartened by what I am hearing from Rudy Guliani’s campaign, with Governor Mitt Romney very close behind in my mind. Mayor Guliani understands the toxicity of the Saudis and their Wahhabis…He is not afraid to articulate the conflict in ideas between Western freedom and Islamist theocracy…He names our enemies by name, and is not afraid to stand for principle and substance in foreign policy over diplomatic platitudes (i.e. against the Saudis, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood), and other Islamists.
Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has also demonstrated a willingness to mince no words when discussing the ideologies we are facing. He identifies jihadists as our enemies and uses his important position of national and global leadership to clearly frame the debate as one between the ideology of Islamism (Caliphism, jihadism, and theocracy) versus freedom.
…John McCain’s articulation of the stakes in the Iraq war has always been very impressive, and I hope that other candidates can look to his clarity on the issue as an example of principle.”
His disclaimer is a laugh since the group’s website lists him as founder and president. Only one other individual is listed on the entire website as a staff member of the group. No board members are listed (though he refers to the existence of one). So Jasser IS AIF. If Jasser is a right-wing Republican, so is AIF. Which makes a 501c3 designation problematic.
Jasser is also a member of the Middle East Forum created and ran by neo-con Daniel Pipes as well as “the pro-Israel and neocon Committee on the Present Danger. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute. He writes for Family Security Matters, Middle East Quarterly, and other far-right websites.” If this doesn’t give you a hint about the agenda that drives Jasser and the purpose of this film nothing will.
Ana and Cenk do a better and more succinct job in eviscerating Third Jihad and the NYPD’s attempted cover-up: