Zuhdi Jasser is a Wisconsin-born physician and anti-Islamist commentator associated with a number of rightist groups in the United States, including the neoconservative-led Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). The son of Syrian immigrants and a practicing Muslim, Jasser founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) in 2003 to "articulate the fact that in commentary and scholarship … many Muslims believe that they are able to practice their faith more freely and more Islamically … in America than in any other place in the world." The AIFD is intended to serve "as an example of an American Islamic institution which can be a leading voice for liberty-minded Muslims in America in the war on terror."
A frequent commentator on Islamic issues for various conservative media—including Fox News and the Washington Times—and contributing writer to right-wing groups like Family Security Matters, Jasser often voices shrill views regarding the fate of the "free world" in the face of Islamic extremism. On the website of the CPD, Jasser claims, "Only freedom-loving devotional American Muslims can lead an effective counter-jihad from within the Muslim community. The future of American liberty and the free world as we know it depends upon the moral courage of anti-Islamist Muslims. They must wake up to both their national responsibility and their personal religious responsibility of rescuing Islam from the theocratic ambitions of the Islamists."
Jasser has a blog on Pundicity.com, which also publishes hardline writers like Steven Emerson, Michael Rubin of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, and Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Jasser's blog entries typically include harangues about purported "Islamist" influence in the United Sates, including accusations that the Barack Obama administration is overly influenced by "Beltway Islamists" and extended discussions about the threat of "political Islam."
In a February 2009 blog entry, Jasser criticized President Obama for announcing in his inaugural address that he was seeking a "new beginning" with the "Muslim world." According to Jasser, Obama's formulation erroneously grouped all Muslims together, neglecting to differentiate between "Islamists" and "devout anti-Islamist Muslims." He wrote, "By making no distinctions between support for autocrats and dissidents, he spoke to maintaining the status quo—the despots in control. The 'Muslim world' is not monolithic. Giving it a simple description as a singular political entity based in a faith practice directly feeds into the language of the theocrats—the Islamists. … By ignoring the ideas of liberty and generically reaching out to Muslims, we do the moral cause of freedom a great disservice. We tell them that we will return to the days of empowering their oppressors and ignoring their dissidents all in the name of 'mutual interest and respect.'"
Jasser has had a role in various controversial films promoting the Islamist threat thesis. In 2007, Jasser was one of several "experts" interviewed for the documentary Islam v Islamists, a film produced by ABG Films, which alleged that moderate Muslims were being intimidated by Islamic extremists in western democratic countries. After PBS decided not to air the film because of what it described as the film's poor production quality and incomplete reporting, many right-wing groups in the United States harshly criticized PBS for having an ideological agenda. Frank Gaffney, one of the film's producers and head of the hardline neocon group Center for Security Policy, said, "This is a well-documented, textbook case of the abuse of taxpayer funding by elements in the public broadcasting system to advocate their agenda and ensure that people who have a different agenda don't get on the air."
Jasser's bio page on his American Islamic Forum for Democracy website states that he was "one of the moderate, anti-Islamist Muslims featured in the controversial PBS film, Islam v Islamists. ... This film was initially banned from distribution on PBS stations as originally intended in the Crossroads program but was then aired in a limited distribution to some affiliates. It did receive national acclaim in its release on the Fox News Channel in October 2007."
In 2009, Jasser again plunged into a controversy sparked by a film with an apparently anti-Islamic agenda, The Third Jihad, a documentary produced by the Clarion Fund, a U.S.-based non-profit with strong ties to both the U.S. and Israeli right-wings. Jasser is a central figure in The Third Jihad, which largely revolves around his commentary on Islamists. Reviewing the film, the Inter Press Service reported that Jasser and the film's creators contend that "Radical Muslims, by having children, spreading their faith, and ensuring their ability to practice Islam as they see fit, are working a 'demographic jihad' in which they see themselves emerging as a majority and making Islam the dominant religion of the U.S.—eventually to take over the nation altogether."
Jasser's work has received the support of a number of groups in the United States who espouse an ideology roughly equivalent to Israel's right-wing Likud Party. Among these organizations: the Hudson Institute, which has invited Jasser to speak on Islam; and the Center for Security Policy, which gave Jasser its "Defender of the Home Front" award during one of its annual "Keeper of the Flame" dinners.
Jasser's AIFD bio states that he is a veteran "whose tours of duty included Medical Department Head aboard the U.S.S. El Paso ('93-'94) which deployed to Somalia (Operation Restore Hope), Chief Resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital ('96-'97), and Staff Internist for the Office of the Attending Physician to Congress in Washington, D.C ('97-'99). He has since been in the private practice of internal medicine and nuclear cardiology in Phoenix. Dr. Jasser is the immediate-Past President of the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA) and also chairs the Bioethics Committee for Banner Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center."