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Bloomberg slams use of flick about Muslims at NYPD training seminars

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg Credit: (Office of the Mayor)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg cast the NYPD's use of a controversial video on Muslim extremism as "terrible judgment" Tuesday.

The documentary, "The Third Jihad," was shown from October through December 2010 at training seminars in Brooklyn, according to documents obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice through a Freedom of Information request. More than 1,480 officers may have seen the film.

Muslim groups argue that the 72-minute film is "anti-Muslim" and distorts Islam. The film was financed by the nonprofit Clarion Fund, which also backed a documentary about "radical Islam's war against the West."

Bloomberg said Tuesday that neither he nor Police Commissioner Ray Kelly initially knew the film was being shown, nor was it played at the Police Academy.

"As soon as they found out about it, they stopped it and took it down," the mayor said. "Somebody exercised some terrible judgment. I don't know who, we'll find out."

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Tuesday the department did not authorize the video, which wasn't used as part of the training sessions.

"It had been put on a loop on a TV, in a room which officers used to fill in paperwork during down time," Browne said in an e-mail. "As soon as an officer complained about it, it was removed."

He added that a sergeant who obtained the film and played it was reprimanded.

Raphael Shore, executive producer of "The Third Jihad," stood behind the film Tuesday, and said in a statement it should be "considered required viewing for law enforcement."

While the NYPD didn't comment on Bloomberg's criticism, the latest controversy, which was first reported by the Village Voice a year ago, comes as civil liberties groups question the department's reported surveillance of Muslims in New York.

Muslim-American groups Tuesday called for "transparent accountability" of the NYPD, with the Islamic Circle of North America also demanding the resignation of Kelly, who appeared in the film. Browne added that Kelly said the video was "objectionable" and should not have agreed to be interviewed for it.

"This type of clandestine behavior by the NYPD ... calls into question the integrity of a police force that is sworn to protect thousands of law-abiding Muslim-Americans and other ethnic communities," Islamic Circle president Zahid Bukhari said in a statement.

Cyrus McGoldrick, CAIR-NY's civil rights manager, called the mayor's comments Tuesday "too little, too late, and will not alleviate the need for transparent accountability and immediate civilian oversight over the NYPD."

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