My latest blog post for the Yalla Change campaign, called, “The Third Jihad: Dangerous NYPD Training Materials on American Muslims” can also be read here.
So begins The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America, a 72-minute “documentary” which aims to show the infiltration of radical Islam into the United States. Though the film begins with this disclaimer, the method of argumentation throughout directly contradicts it with various misrepresentations of Islam. It describes the first two major jihads in Islamic history as Islam’s original expansion and Islam’s arrival in Europe in the 13th century, while the third jihad supposedly aims to establish a global Islamic state, which will be achieved through a combination of violence and deception. The film “exposes” the “creeping threat of sharia” over Constitutional law, and elicits concern for radicalization in prisons via conversion to Islam. The Third Jihad presents a clash of civilizations approach, with Islam portrayed as incompatible with modernity and democracy, and Muslim integration in to American society framed as part of a 1,400 year holy war. In doing so, the film fosters dangerous and counter-productive anti-Muslim sentiment.
The Third Jihad was produced by the Clarion Fund, the group responsible for the production and distribution of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West to 28 million U.S. households in battleground states in the lead-up to the 2008 elections. An organization dedicated to producing films about “radical Islam,” the Clarion Fund’s advisory board is made up of such luminaries as Frank J. Gaffney Jr. and Daniel Pipes. Featuring interviews with “expert” Islamophobes including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Walid Phares, and Bernard Lewis, and government leaders including Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security, and R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA. The Third Jihad is a divisive and slanderous attack on the United States’ Muslim communities. It was also used in counter-terrorism training by the New York Police Department.
Though news of the NYPD’s use of the film was first reported by the Village Voice over a year ago, the New York Times recently revealed that the film wasn’t merely shown “a couple of times,” as NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne originally asserted. Rather, it was shown for a period of three months as part of mandatory counter-terrorism training. Research by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School revealed that almost 1,500 officers watched this film as part of their training. The picture gets uglier: among those interviewed for the film were NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
This incident is just one in a series of affronts by the NYPD towards the Muslim community in New York. A recent report reveals deliberate NYPD targeting of Shiite mosques. The document also argues that, “The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government.” If this is the type of “research” that informs the NYPD’s counter-terrorism strategy, surveillance tactics such as these are unsurprising. In an article this summer, the Associated Press reported that, “the NYPD has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government.”