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Will an Islamic flag fly over the White House some day?

A documentary film that presents an alarming picture of the spread of radical Islam in the US, and of a jihadi agenda to dominate the world, is at the centre of a controversy after revelations that police authorities in New York used it as part of their police training regimen.

The film, titled The Third Jihad (website; watch a promo clip), claims that "home-grown" jihad in the US has acquired a critical mass and now poses a threat to national security, western liberties and “the American way of life".

The film claims that radical Islamists are driven by the dream of a "third jihad" – the first being the one waged by Prophet Muhammad, and the second in the Middle Ages – with the objective of world domination. Alongside the use of ‘violent jihad’ and terror to instill fear in “non-believers”, radical Islamists were also waging a “cultural jihad” as a means to infiltrate and undermine societies from within, invoking the rights and laws that these societies provide, the film says.

The Third Jihad (website), claims that "home-grown" jihad in the US has acquired a critical mass and now poses a threat to national security, western liberties and “the American way of life". Reuters

In one of the opening sequences of the film, a doctored photographic image depicts an Islamic flag fluttering over the White House. The commentary says: “This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America… A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America… This is the war you don’t know about.” (Watch YouTube videos from The Third Jihad here and here.)

The central thesis of the film is based on a document used in the 2009 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a US-based Islamic charity that was shut down after its founders were found guilty of funnelling money to Hamas, the Palestinian group that today governs the Gaza Strip.

That document, an Islamist manifesto drawn up in 1991 by the Muslim Brotherhood and titled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America” (original document in Arabic and English here), makes the case for a “grand Jihad” in America to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within and to sabotage “its miserable house” … so that God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad, it adds.

The film fuses graphic and incendiary TV footage aired on Islamic broadcasting stations around the world, featuring interviews with and speeches of, radical American Muslim leaders. It also features interviews with politicians, analysts and personalities with strong views on the perils of the rise of radical Islam – including, among others, US lawmaker Joe Lieberman, former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, writer and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali; former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, former intelligence officials in both the CIA and the FBI, and analysts with right-wing thinktanks in the US.

Although the film was released in 2009, attention has been focussed anew on it in the light of revelations that it was used as part of an anti-terrorism training regimen by the New York Police Department whose head, Ray Kelly, was one of those whose interviews is featured in it.

Police authorities had initially claimed that the film had only been shown a couple of times, but documents obtained by the Brennan Centre for Justice (at the New York University of Law) have established that their use was rather more widespread.

On Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticised the decision to show police officers the film as a manifestation of “terrible judgment” on the part of police authorities. "Somebody exercised terrible judgement," Bloomberg said. "As soon as they found out about it, they stopped it.” Bloomberg, however, said that neither he nor Kelly knew about the film being shown.

The Third Jihad was produced by Clarion Fund, which the Institute for Policy Studies idenfies as a New York City-based non-profit organisation “that is linked to US and Israeli right-wing groups that produces and distributes alarmist films aimed at alerting “Americans about the threat of Radical Islam.”

The shadowy Clarion Fund claims that one of its aims is to “educate Americans about issues of national security” by focussing on “the threats of Radical Islam”. It was founded by Canadian-Israeli film producer and rabbi Raphael Shore.

Listed by the Centre for American Progress as a member of the “Islamophobia echo chamber” in the US, the Clarion Fund counts a former CIA official on its board of directors, and is well-funded by donors, including, as New York Times reports, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is a major supporter of Israel – and who has contributed millions of dollars to the campaign of Newt Gingrich, who is looking to secure the Republican party nomination for president.

Gingrich himself is something of a motormouth Islamophobe, given to scaremongering about how Sharia law will be imposed in the US by radical Islamists. In a speech in July 2010, Gingrich said: “ Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” He has produced similar Islamophobic video documentaries in the past.

The Islamophobia industry is a flourishing business, and the man who is feeding off it the most right now is Gingrich, who is running a close race to secure the Republican party nomination. Having won the South Carolina primary on Monday, he has his eyes firmly set on the White House, the same White House over which, some fear, an Islamic flag will go up some day.