On March 13, an interfaith group called “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” wrote a letter to New York City Mayor Bloomberg bashing the NYPD and pledging to stand up for the Muslim-American community. In reality, they picked a side within the community. A coalition of about 20 Muslim-American officials rallied to support the NYPD. Shoulder-to-Shoulder picked the side of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), two groups founded by the Muslim Brotherhood and tied by the federal government to Hamas.
The letter attacks the NYPD’s controversial counterterrorism practices and takes particular aim at The Third Jihad, a film produced by the Clarion Fund that features a brief appearance by NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and has been shown to nearly 1,500 NYPD officers. The film exposes the Islamist threat within the U.S. and the nefarious connections of groups like CAIR and ISNA.
Parroting the line of CAIR, Shoulder to Shoulder claims that the film is “bigoted,” “patently false,” “highly inappropriate propaganda” and “drastic misinformation.” The letter is endorsed by various Christian and Jewish officials and, unsurprisingly, Imam Mohamed Magid, the President of ISNA, who is a member of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder executive committee.
A little bit of background information is needed to understand what is happening. CAIR, ISNA and their allies have been working hard to cleanse counter-terrorism agencies of influences that expose them and the overall threat posed by the Islamist ideology. This is easily accomplished by branding their critics as anti-Muslim bigots and warning that their involvement with government personnel threatens Muslim cooperation.
The New York Times decided to take aim at the NYPD’s use of The Third Jihad. The newspaper called it a “hate-filled” and “dark” film while misquoting it. The Times reported that the film states that it is about “the true agenda of much of Islam in America.” In reality, the film states that it is about “the true agenda of much of the Muslim leadership in America” and opens up by emphasizing that it is only about a “small percentage” of Muslims and not Islam as a whole. Furthermore, it is narrated by a devout Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, and is endorsed by the American Islamic Leadership Coalition. The Clarion Fund has released arebuttal video.
CAIR and ISNA smelled blood in the water and demanded the resignation of Ray Kelly. This shouldn’t have been surprising, considering that the film discusses how CAIR and ISNA were labeled by the federal government as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down for funding Hamas. In July 2009, the two groups lost their fight in court to have the label lifted when the judge ruled that the government provided “ample evidence” linking them to Hamas.
ISNA was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981 and its conferences regularly feature extremist speakers. One of the Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents from 1991 identifies it as one of its fronts. Imam Magid, who holds an official position with Shoulder-to-Shoulder, leads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Virginia, which has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and had its offices raided as part of a terrorism investigation.
The Shoulder-to-Shoulder website has apparently been used to promote CAIR events. A search for “CAIR” brought up events in Dallas, Cincinatti and Seattle. One of the board members of CAIR-NY, Lamis Deek,alleges that there is a “NYPD-CIA-Israel alliance in NY” and that Israeli Mossad agents are posing as FBI agents and persecuting innocent Muslims. He has also praised Hamas and said it showed that Palestinians are dedicating to taking “all of the 1948 territories,” a softer way of calling for the destruction of Israel.
Not all of the details are out yet about what the NYPD did but when the overheated rhetoric is peeled away, there is no proof that the NYPD trampled on the civil rights of anyone. Innocent Muslims were not wiretapped simply for practicing Islam. There were no illegal searches and seizures.
Much attention has been paid to how the NYPD mapped out Muslim communities, but mapping is a regularly used law enforcement technique. The NYPD used the U.S. Census, a public record accessible to anyone, to map out where makeup of the Muslim community and the locations of Islamic sites. Agents gathered information that any college student could have.
Patrick Dunleavy, who worked in the NYPD’s Intelligence Division from 2002 to 2005, mentioned during adebate with a CAIR attorney that this type of mapping and investigation isn’t new. Hispanic officers were used to go into the Hispanic communities to track down drug dealers. When undercover NYPD officers go to a public place where radical Muslims are likely to congregate like an Islamic bookstore and take note of potential radical activity, they are doing nothing more than what a civilian could do.
The headlines make it sound like the NYPD monitored random Muslim students. Actually, they investigatedsome chapters of the Muslim Students Association, one of the original Muslim Brotherhood front groups established in the U.S. A long list of terrorists, including Anwar al-Awlaki, served in the group. As a NYPD spokesman said, “Some of the most dangerous Western Al-Qaeda-linked/inspired terrorists since 9/11 were radicalized and/or recruited at universities in MSAs.”
The NYPD likely had good reason to investigate these particular MSA chapters. For example, the Brooklyn College MSA was investigated because of “militant paintball trips.” A Hamas front previously hosted a speaker there that called for jihad and sang an anti-Semitic song. The Queens College MSA was investigatedbecause a member was tied to an Al-Qaeda affiliate called Al-Muhajiroun. This is just what is in the public record. The NYPD very well could have confidential information that convinced it to devote resources to those specific students and chapters.
Even if details ultimately come out that show that the NYPD stepped over the line, the fact will remain that Shoulder-to-Shoulder has chosen to ally with CAIR and ISNA and slander the integrity of their critics.