Makers defend Islam movie criticized by NYC mayor

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NEW YORK (AP) - The makers of a documentary on radical Islam are defending their work after Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the showing of it where police officers were gathered.

The conservative Clarion Fund said Wednesday its movie, “The Third Jihad,” accurately describes the Muslim terrorist threat. It said police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was fully aware of the film’s focus when he agreed to be interviewed for it in 2007.

Muslim groups have complained that the movie paints them as terrorists and encourages Americans to distrust even moderate Muslim organizations. Some of the groups that complained are criticized in the film as being more radical than they appear on the surface.

The film’s producer, Raphael Shore, said in a written statement, “Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal state of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats.”

On Tuesday, Bloomberg said New York police used “terrible judgment” when they showed the 72-minute movie on the sidelines of counterterrorism training sessions in 2010.

Nearly 1,500 police officers went through the training and may have seen the film, according to police documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank at New York University.

Muslim activists say they worry that the police department is teaching officers to regard all Muslims as suspects. Last year an investigation by The Associated Press revealed the police department has operated a secret surveillance program targeting ethnic neighborhoods.

Kelly appears in “The Third Jihad” three times for a total of about 30 seconds, talking about prison converts, the Soviet Union and the threat of terrorists using nuclear weapons. Other people who appear in the documentary include former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was in office when Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne told reporters last year that he believed the footage of Kelly speaking was lifted from another source.

Kelly wrote in a letter to a Muslim group that the movie wasn’t part of police training but was projected onto a screen while people attending the training were completing paperwork.

“The New York Police Department did not participate in its production,” Kelly wrote in the March 7, 2011, letter to Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York.

On Tuesday, Browne said he personally had recommended that Kelly talk on camera. He said Kelly now regrets doing the interview.

Police didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Clarion Fund spokesman Alex Traiman said Kelly spoke to the producers for 90 minutes and was fully aware of the movie’s focus.

“The commissioner wasn’t duped,” Traiman said. “If he was unhappy with the line of questioning you’d think he would have broken off the interview before 90 minutes.”

He accused Bloomberg and Kelly of bending to the will of Muslim activists.

“People don’t want to deal with so much of that pressure; they prefer to cave in to it,” he said.

The Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, has produced other movies about terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program.

Shore used to work for Aish HaTorah, a network of Jewish education centers, but there is no other link between the two groups, Traiman said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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