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Resembling the anti-Communist, red-baiting films of the 1950s, Jihad in America: The Grand Deception effectively sums up its intentions with its title. This documentary, co-directed by Rachel Milton and Steve Emerson (the latter is the executive director of the organization Investigative Project on Terrorism), is a broad indictment of Islam, seemingly implicating every person of that faith as a potential violent jihadist determined to destroy America. While it sometimes makes its polemicist arguments in scarily convincing fashion, its relentlessly broad strokes ultimately undermine its persuasiveness.
The film focuses on the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 and very much in the news in the last year due to its temporary rule of the Egyptian government. Using interviews with numerous scholars, former FBI agents and Muslim leaders, it examines the influence of the organization in numerous countries, but especially the United States. It also takes special aim at CAIR, or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is basically described as a propaganda outfit before which the American government, media organizations and even Hollywood studios cower, and the Muslim Student Associations, a controversial umbrella organization of student groups in campuses throughout the country.
The film’s primary tool is the extensive use of audio and visual excerpts of numerous incendiary speeches by Islamist figures that are indeed eye-opening. It also makes canny use of such footage as congressional testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder in which he steadfastly refuses to use the term “radical Islam” despite incessant prodding.
Tracing the links between the Muslim Brotherhood and such terrorist organizations as Hamas, the film vociferously argues that it the former is engaged in an elaborate subterfuge masking its true aims. As with most such politically themed documentaries, whether you buy its premise will depend largely on your preexisting attitude. But there’s no doubt that its over-the-top approach ultimately seems as manipulative as the ideology it’s condemning.
Opened Oct. 25
Production companies: New World Cinema, SAE Production
Directors: Steve Emerson, Rachel Milton
Screenwriters: Chris Cantergiani, Steve Emerson, Rachel Milton, Mark Tapson
Executive producer: Steve Emerson
Director of photography; Paul Jacobson
Editors: Jude Leak, Martin Nelson
Not rated, 70 min.
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