Anti-Islam Film Shown “On Continuous Loop” to NYPD Counterterrorism Trainees

January 2011:

This month, when a group of New York City police officers showed up for their required counter-terrorism training, they got to watch a movie.

…The film is called The Third Jihad. It is 72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches, and seething mullahs.

…Police officials agree that this is a “wacky movie,” as deputy commissioner Paul Browne said, that never should have been shown to officers. Browne initially insisted that cops had never seen the flick. “It was reviewed and found to be inappropriate,” he said. Further checking revealed that the movie had been aired for officers. It was a mistake, Browne said. “It was not approved for the curriculum. It’s not shown for any purpose now.”

January 2012:

The movie was shown on a continuous loop while officers were signing in for counterterrorism training sessions from October to December 2010, according to police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank at New York University.

…Browne said that the police brass did not approve the use of the movie and that the decision to play it was made by a sergeant, who has since been reprimanded.

…The film was used as “intermission filler” and to “provide information for students during breaks to keep their attention focused on counterterrorism issues,” Assistant Chief George W. Anderson wrote in one of the documents obtained by the Brennan Center.

As was widely reported, the Third Jihad was produced by the Clarion Fund, which was also responsible for the documentary Obsession (the Fund also promoted the “Islam doll” conspiracy theory). At least one of the “experts” featured in the Obsession film – namely Walid Shoebat – has been known to promote the conspiracy theory that Obama is “really” a Muslim, and the Third Jihad DVD includes footage of Glenn Beck.

Improper counter-terrorism training is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past year: a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December 2010, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March 2011 which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins. A report by the progressive Political Research Associates also appeared in last spring, while the summer saw critical pieces on CNN and NPR, as well as a report in Wired. Wired also ran a second piece in October.

The police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice can be seen here, and include the following from Anderson:

The video was not a part of the authorized curriculum in place for COBRA training; however, staff at the COBRA Unit indicated they obtained the video from DHS staff who are assigned to work with NYPD instructors in the COBRA program

…The identity of the DHS member who provided the video remains unknown. During the early inquiry into this matter, I contacted Arthur Collins, Assistant Eastern Regional Manager for SAIC Contractor Support to the Center for Domestic Preparedness (DHS), via telephone, to inquire about the video and the DHS position on its use in training programs. Mr. Collins supervises the DHS contract personnel who assist in COBRA training. Mr. Collins indicated in an email response that the video in fact is not an authorized video used by DHS personnel… I conclude that it is likely a DHS member did possess the video and shared it with COBRA staff, but not have official authorization to do so. As such, both the unidentified DHS member and Sgt. Walsh used this video in an unauthorized manner.

Collins confirmed to Anderson that

This video was not authorized to be used at any of the training deliveries either at the COBRA site in Brooklyn or at the CDP resident training program, by SAIC or FEMA.

SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) has a website here; according to a relevant blurb:

We have extensive experience with the component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and have worked hand in hand with our agency customers to meet their important training, technical, and strategic requirements. 

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that there was involvement between the filmmakers and police:

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.

…Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne told The New York Times on Monday that the filmmakers had relied on old interview clips and had never spoken with the commissioner.

…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 an e-mail, Mr. Browne said that when he first saw the film in 2011, he assumed the commissioner’s interview was taken from old clips, even though the film referred to Mr. Kelly as an “interviewee.” He did not offer an explanation as to why he and the commissioner, on Tuesday, remembered so much of their decision.

…”Commissioner Kelly told me today that the video was objectionable,” he said, “and that he should not have agreed to the interview five years ago, when I recommended it.”

This leaves an unfortunate impression. Paul Browne’s original public position was that this was a “wacky” film which had not been used. Then he admitted that it had been shown. Now it transpires that the film was shown on a “continuous loop” as an “intermission filler”, and that Browne had himself liaised with the film’s producer.

In 2008 I noted that the Third Jihad cover art had been tweaked a couple of times before the documentary came out, although at least one person who left comments wasn’t impressed by my suggestion about why this may have occured.

(H/T Islamophobia Watch)