Docs Reveal 1500 NYPD Officers Viewed Anti-Muslim Film
New York: The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) has called on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to offer a concrete plan to help counter the misinformation about Islam and Muslims provided to almost 1500 officers through the screening of "The Third Jihad," a notorious anti-Muslim propaganda film.
CAIR-NY is also asking for a review of all NYDP training on Islam and for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to meet with Muslim community leaders and representatives of other minority and civil liberties groups to discuss allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the department.
The New York Times reports that, despite NYPD denials last year, the propaganda film "was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department." According to the film's narrator, the "true agenda of much of Islam in America" is to "infiltrate and dominate America ... This is the war you don't know about."
"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,' ... 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."
When the issue first came to light last year, CAIR-NY called on the NYPD to investigate how the propaganda film came to be used in mandatory counterterrorism training. CAIR-NY also called for new NYPD guidelines to ensure that officer training materials offer only unbiased information about any religious or minority community. Along with the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), CAIR-NY sent several letters to Commissioner Kelly, but received little or no response.
"The NYPD must come up with a concrete plan that will correct the misinformation that has been offered to so many officers. Only transparent accountability can begin to rebuild the Muslim community's trust in the department following this admission and other recent revelations of warrantless spying on innocent Muslims," said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Manager Cyrus McGoldrick. "This example is just part of a pattern of training that gives inaccurate and inflammatory information to law enforcement and security personnel nationwide."
He noted that the Obama administration said it would review and reform government training on Islam after CAIR and the other civil rights groups expressed concerns about persistent reports that FBI agents and other government and military officials are trained to view mainstream American Muslims with suspicion and to view the faith of Islam as the source of terrorism and extremism.
McGoldrick added that a recent series of investigative reports by The Associated Press revealed that undercover NYPD officers in a so-called "Demographics Unit" spied on Muslim communities and houses of worship with the assistance of individuals linked to the CIA. NYPD officials initially denied the Demographics Unit existed, despite the AP's publication of an NYPD presentation that described the mission and makeup of the unit. Additionally, according to AP, a CIA lawyer who should have authorized the agency’s involvement in NYPD’s spying programs, never issued such authorization, as required under the 1981 presidential order to prevent the CIA from domestic spying.
Reports indicate that the NYPD even spied on Muslim leaders who figured prominently in community outreach efforts, and infiltrated Muslim student groups not suspected of committing any crime.
"The Third Jihad" was produced by the shadowy non-profit group the Clarion Fund. A previous anti-Muslim propaganda film produced by the group and distributed to millions of voters in swing states just prior to the 2008 election was apparently backed by a $17 million donation from a "longtime contributor" to neo-conservatives and militant Israeli groups. The Clarion Fund also has links to the right-wing Israeli group Aish HaTorah.
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The Times article also notes: "[The Clarion Fund's] 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."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.