When a documentary on the threat of Islamist terrorism, called The Third Jihad, was screened for the NYPD, the New York Times ran several articles condemning the movie as “Islamophobic” (see, “In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims”). Most arguments in support of the documentary have focused on ties between the New York Times and Islamist groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization labeled by former Congressman Cass Ballenger as a “fundraising arm for Hezbollah.” Yet not many have addressed the dangerous stifling of free speech that intelligence and law enforcement officers endure because of such politically charged accusations of Islamophobia.
It should be noted that not all Muslims in the U.S., including myself, are offended by the documentary. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim-American of Syrian origin, serves as the narrator of The Third Jihad. After watching the documentary it seems Jasser simply wants Americans to know the difference between a moderate Muslim — an individual who sees his or her faith as a personal matter — and political Islam, or what political scientists call Islamism. Proponents of Islamism, or Islamists, desire to “Islamicize” society through non-violent means. To this end, Islamists maneuver through social, legal, judicial, educational, and political institutions with the goal of indoctrinating future generations to accept Islamist principles and institute tenets of Sharia law. Advocates of speech codes that punish the blasphemy of Islam can accurately be called Islamists.
The debate over the legitimacy of the documentary, as evidenced by the hundreds of comments and subsequent articles published on the Internet, parallels the power and importance of free speech and open political dialogue in our society today. Ironically, such discussion is not permitted within law enforcement — among the actual men and women whose job it is to protect American lives on a daily basis. How is this possible? It is because of the success of Islamist influence in the U.S., despite their small numbers.
As Jasser notes in his own rebuttal to the New York Times, while the number of Islamists may not be meaningful in the U.S. today or even in one hundred years — their international ties, lobbying influence, and access to foreign funding give them an advantage the typical first generation American-Muslim immigrant community of modest means cannot compete with. As a result, Islamist organizations like CAIR, the National Iranian American Council, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council have undue influence within government by purporting to represent American-Muslims.
Consider how this has affected our national security. The Obama administration has instituted a top-down review of any references to Islam in counter-terrorism training manuals and has blacklisted intelligence personnel whose presentations have been deemed “Islamophobic.” For understanding the difference between moderate Muslims, Islamists, and violent Islamists, the NYPD is labeled Islamophobic by the nation’s largest newspaper. For Commissioner Kelly’s participation in the same debate, CAIR has called for his resignation. One expert, Bruce Tefft, hired by the NYPD after 9/11 to teach police officers about the threat of Islamist terrorism, was sued by a Muslim John-Doe police officer alleging he was personally offended by the briefing. The classification of Fort Hood as “workplace violence,” despite Major Nidal Hasan’s well-documented jihadist sympathies, is only a minor symptom of a much larger problem.
This is not to say that law enforcement is perfect. But to be better, they need more information not less. As one ex-intel officer stated to me once (and I am paraphrasing): “We speak about Christianity when we talk about right-wing militia groups, skinheads, and neo-Nazis. We speak about other religions or philosophies if the ideology is relevant to a social or political movement that affects the safety of Americans. The conversations about Islam and Islamism are the same.”