A new 30-second commercial, appearing on Rep. Duncan Hunter’s YouTube channel and shared via Twitter, depicts his Democratic opponent as a security risk bankrolled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress,” the narrator says. “He’s used three different names to hide his family’s ties to terrorism.”

The ad was posted about the same time that the Los Angeles Times quoted a spokesman for Hunter as denying that Hunter — in well-publicized remarks in Ramona — labeled Campa-Najjar a Muslim.

Screen shot from Duncan Hunter campaign ad suggests that Ammar Campa-Najjar's father said "They deserved to die," referring to Israelis killed in 1972 Olympic attack.
Screen shot from Duncan Hunter campaign ad suggests that Ammar Campa-Najjar’s father said “They deserved to die,” referring to Israelis killed in 1972 Olympic attack. Image via YouTube.com

“He never made the claim that his opponent is Muslim,” Hunter aide Mike Harrison was quoted as saying. “That’s for his opponent to answer.”

Harrison said the campaign has “heard” Campa-Najjar “claimed to be a Christian.” (Campa-Najjar has repeatedly told of his Christian faith and church activities.)

In a talk Monday to a GOP women’s club in Ramona, Hunter noted a legal name change by Campa-Najjar to remove “Yasser” (his father’s name) from his legal name and add “Joseph” as well.

“His [campaign] signs should actually say: Ammar Joseph Campa or something,” Hunter said Monday. “That is how hard, by the way, that the radical Muslims are trying to infiltrate the U.S. government. You had more Islamists run for office this year at the federal level than ever before in U.S. history.”

Hunter’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the new commercial, which was tweeted by the anti-Muslim account of Amy Jane Mekelburg.

But the president of the San Diego Unified School District board responded Thursday to a Hunter allegation, made Monday, that “you have radical Islamist propaganda being pushed on the kids in our San Diego school district…. They put them on prayer rugs and they say: We gotta honor every religion.”

In a statement, board president Kevin Beiser called the remark a “despicable attempt to divide Americans and attack our students simply to advance the interests of an indicted politician.”

Beiser, a Democrat, said Hunter repeats things he knows aren’t true — claims that “have been repeatedly debunked by the media and — just yesterday — by a federal court.”

“I strongly support the separation of church and state,” he said, “but teaching tolerance for people of other faiths is also an American value. It is central to our work to prevent bullying. We have a strong anti-bullying program because school needs to be the safest place our kids can be.”

The new video was posted by @AmyMek and had 7,500 views as of early Thursday afternoon and was retweeted nearly 1,000 times.

Mekelburg, a New Yorker who was the subject of stories in Huffington Post and The New York Times, has 232,000 Twitter followers.

She “has tirelessly spewed far-right propaganda and, above all, Islamophobia,” HuffPost said in June. “Around 25 tweets a day, sometimes more, the majority of them designed to stoke hatred of Muslims.”

The Hunter ad also quotes an unidentified expert referring to a “well-orchestrated plan” by Muslims to take over Congress.

The speaker is Joseph John, a retired Navy captain and “FBI analyst” whose clip was pulled from a news segment (“Experts Warn Rep. Hunter’s Opponent Is National Security Risk”) two weeks ago on San Diego-based One America News Network.

On Thursday, a co-chair of Veterans for Ammar told Times of San Diego that the ad “is the worst kind of fear-mongering. It’s racist, untrue and meant to bring out the worst in humans.”

Shawn VanDiver, the 50th District candidate’s supporter, also said he wasn’t aware of the ad airing on TV.

In any case, VanDiver said, Campa-Najjar’s grandfather wasn’t the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympic attack — as alleged in the commercial. “This guy was,” he said, sharing a link.

“Ammar Campa-Najjar has been his formal name for years, both personally and professionally,” VanDiver said. And “his dad never said [Israeli athletes] deserved to die. They literally made that up with no real source.”

VanDiver also pushed back against the title of the ad, which calls Campa-Najjar a security risk.

“Hunter would currently be disqualified from acquiring a security clearance due to his pending criminal investigation and financial insecurity,” he said via email.

John, in the ad, also said Campa-Najjar was backed by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Eugene W. Fields, a Los Angeles spokesman for CAIR, said he became aware of the ad earlier Thursday afternoon.

“This video is bigoted, promotes Islamophobia, is factually incorrect and should be immediately taken down,” Fields said via email. “Ammar Campa-Najjar is not Muslim; he is a Christian.”

Fields noted that CAIR, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is not allowed to endorse individual candidates.

“Furthermore, CAIR has not endorsed or supported any political candidate in any race,” he said.

Fields described CAIR as a group that seeks to enhance understanding of Islam and empowering American Muslims through advocacy efforts and legal representation. Its mission also includes protecting civil liberties and promoting justice.

“After his recent indictment for allegedly misusing of campaign funds, it is not surprising that Rep. Hunter would choose to not stand on the merits of his own candidacy and/or his record in Congress but would instead choose to incite fear among voters through lies and intolerance,” Fields said.

“We would hope the voters in the 50th Congressional District would recognize that this type of political divisiveness, fear-mongering and hate-mongering have no place in their district, our state, our nation, and certainly not in the halls of Congress.”

(Hunter remains a favorite to win re-election, however, with a new Monmouth University Polling Institute poll saying 49 percent of potential voters say they’d vote for the Alpine Republican if the election were held today. Campa-Najjar had support of 41 percent.)

The YouTube version of the Hunter ad — which ends: “I’m Duncan Hunter, and I approved this message” — had 28 views as of 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

“Comments are disabled for this video,” said the account of the indicted East County congressman.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 27, 2018