CAIRO - A training film material used by the New York police that accuses Muslims of launching a holy war against the West is sparking a storm of condemnations in the United States, amid accusations that the world's largest police force is sowing fears of Muslims in the country.
The training of the world's largest city police force is an important question, Faiza Patel, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School which obtained the documents under Freedom of Information law, told The New York Times on Tuesday, January 24.
The police have shown an explosive documentary to its officers and simply stonewalled us.
News broke out that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had used a film titled The Third Jihad in training more than a thousand officers.
A police officer initially denied the report, but later said that the film had been mistakenly screened a couple of times for a few officers.
But internal police documents, obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Law, showed that the film was shown on a continuous loop for between three months and one year of training for nearly 1,500 officers.
The 72-minute film, which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, claims that there were three jihads: One at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), a second in the Middle Ages and a third that is underway covertly in the West today.
It starts with ominous music playing as images show "Muslim terrorists" shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph showing an Islamic flag flying over the White House.
This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America, a narrator intones.
A strategy to infiltrate and dominate Americaâ¦ This is the war you don't know about.
The film is funded by Clarion Fund, a non-profit group that shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any land concessions in the West Bank.
Its previous documentary attacking Muslims' war on the West attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has been pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.
The producer of The Third Jihad, Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.
Human rights advocates and Muslim leaders accused the NYPD of sowing fears of Muslims among Americans.
It defiled our faith and misrepresented everything we stood for, Zead Ramadan, the New York president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The New York Times.
The news of the film was revealed to Tom Robbins, a former columnist with The Village Voice, who was contacted by a Muslim police officer who spoke of his unease with the film in January 2010.
When the news broke out last year, Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, called it a wacky film that had been shown only a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual course work began.
Yet, the officer said the video was shown continuously during the sign-in, medical and administrative orientation process.
The officer was completely offended by it as a Muslim, Ramadan said.
Later on, the Police Academy informed Browne that back on March 23, 2011, that the film had been viewed by 68 lieutenants, 159 sergeants, 31 detectives and 1,231 patrol officers.
At this point, the Brennan Center launched its nine-month legal battle to obtain this information.
The department's response was to deny it and to fight our request for information, Patel of the Brennan Center said.
It suggests a broader problem that they refuse to divulge this information much less to discuss it.
Anger has grown against the New York police recently following reports that the NYPD used undercover agents to spy on Muslim communities.
A report by the Associated Press said that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
However, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the practice, saying it does not take religion into account in its policing.
Police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly also denied targeting Muslims in its policing, saying it only followed leads.