Thanks to the Brennan Center’s freedom of information request, we now know that the NYPD not only showed the anti-Muslim film The Third Jihad to officers, but showed it on a continuous loop. Muslim groups are calling for the resignation of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who gave an interview to the film, and his spokesperson, Paul Browne, who first said the filmmakers used footage of Kelly without his knowledge, and later changed his story to admit that he had recommended Kelly participate in the film.
The NYPD showed its trainees a film designed to make them believe that ordinary American Muslims are part of a secret treasonous plot against America.
Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul funding the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, also supported an earlier effort the Clarion Fund, which produced The Third Jihad, the film Obsession. Gal Beckerman of the Forward wrote earlier this week about Adelson’s toxic impact on the GOP primary:
But the greater concern is that because of his influence on Gingrich, Adelson has turned the Republican contest into a competition of extreme rhetoric, in which there is no room for compromise or diplomacy, and the only answer to any international problem is unmitigated toughness. No one wants to be outflanked by the right when it comes to foreign policy (no one, I should say, besides Ron Paul) and so Gingrich’s apparent parroting of Adelson’s hardline attitudes about Israel — and, I should add, Iran — means that the whole tone of the race is affected.
Adelson, and the Clarion Fund, have influenced Gingrich on Islamophobia, too. Gingrich produced his own, largely derivative, anti-Muslim film that draws on many of the same conspiracy theories and falsehoods as The Third Jihad. Gingrich’s film was produced by Citizens United (which brought us the Supreme Court case that permits unlimited funding by Adelson and his wife, Miriam).
The Third Jihad — which, remember, the NYPD was showing to officers undergoing counterterrorism training — focuses on an ominous depiction of a fifth column of Muslims who seek to bring down America from within. It relied on the discredited conspiracy theory that a single memorandum by a low-level Muslim Brotherhood member proves that mainstream Muslim groups in the United States are engaged in a secret plot to subvert the Constitution and install a theocracy governed by shari’ah law.
Gingrich’s film uses the same star used in The Third Jihad to promote that claim, Zuhdi Jasser, who was also the chief witness in Rep. Peter King’s hearings on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community:”
Unlike more wild-eyed anti-Muslim agitators like Frank Gaffney (with whom Jasser has collaborated) and Pamela Geller, Jasser comes across as calm, sober and professional. He gained notoriety in 2008, with the release of the Clarion Fund film The Third Jihad, which claimed that a fifth column of Muslim extremists have infiltrated America with the intent of establishing a theocratic state. The star of the film, Jasser helped promote the claim that has ricocheted all over the right—that a single document written by a lone Muslim Brotherhood member in the early 1990s proves that American Muslim charities and advocacy groups are part of a plot to subvert the Constitution and America and install an Islamic theocracy.
More recently, Jasser made an appearance in Newt Gingrich’s 2010 documentary, America At Risk: The War With No Name, produced by Citizens United, the conservative group whose efforts to air its anti–Hillary Clinton documentary led to the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate money in campaigns. The release of the film roughly coincided with the Geller-created hysteria over Park51, as well as with Gingrich’s own calls to ban Sharia, warning of “a comprehensive political, economic and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society.” The film is notably anti-Obama.
As I noted in my earlier post on last night’s debate, Gingrich had the gall to complain about “an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country.”
Democracy Now had two great segments today on these issues. First, Linda Sarsour, the director of the Arab American Association of New York, discussed the NYPD:
Beckerman and Sarsour then discussed Adelson, and his impact on Gingrich, including the latter’s assertion that the Palestinians are an “invented people:”
CLARIFICATION: This post originally said that Adelson funded the Clarion Fund; this was based on a Times piece from earlier this week which reported that the Clarion Fund’s Obsession project “attracted support from” Adelson. It did not, however report that Adelson directly financed Clarion. I’ve clarified the wording to say that Adelson supported the Clarion Fund (h/t Ali Gharib).