The New York City Police Department, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly in particular, is in hot water over a documentary-style film shown to officers as part of their counter-terrorism training. The film, titled The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America and funded by the Clarion Fund, argues that Muslim extremists are posing as regular civilians to destroy America from within. The news was first reported by the Village Voice in an article from January 2011, to which Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne replied by saying the film was shown only “a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual coursework began.” A recent New York Times piece, however, paints a different picture:
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.
News that police trainers showed this film so extensively comes as the department wrestles with its relationship with the city’s large Muslim community. The Police Department offers no apology for aggressively spying on Muslim groups and says it has ferreted out terror plots.
Despite a statement by Browne that the filmmakers had relied on old interview clips and had never spoken with the commissioner, a follow-up article in the Times reveals this not to be the case:
The New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, through a top aide, acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that he personally cooperated with the filmmakers of “The Third Jihad” — a decision the commissioner now describes as a mistake.
On Tuesday, the film’s producer, Raphael Shore, e-mailed The Times and provided a date and time for their 90-minute interview with the commissioner at Police Headquarters on March 19, 2007. Told of this e-mail, Mr. Browne revised his account.
“He’s right,” Mr. Browne said Tuesday of the producer. “In fact, I recommended in February 2007 that Commissioner Kelly be interviewed.”
In response to the two newspaper articles (as well as an additional editorial entitled “Hateful Film“), Shore has issued a public statement. Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sharply criticized the decision to show trainees the film. The full film is available for viewing here.