It seems Imran Raza made a fairly serious mistake in his film "Karachi Kids" and now the entire documentary is called into question. The children have clearly been coached as to what to say now that they are back in Atlanta.
KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- It's a documentary with an alarming message: Two American boys are held captive in a madrassa, a Pakistani religious school, once visited by Osama bin Laden and with ties to the Taliban.
The film, "Karachi Kids," describes threats to artistic freedom of expression from the teaching of conservative Islam. Early copies of the film prompted outrage after the story of the American boys appeared on Fox News, CBS and other news outlets. It also led to demands from Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, for the boys to be returned home.
But the independent filmmaker may have confused the madrassa with one with a similar name tied to Islamic extremists.
The madrassa the boys attended isn't linked to bin Laden or Muslim radicals; instead, it's one the U.S. State Department says is preferred by Pakistani-Americans for its moderate Islamic teachings and one recently visited by a top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.
How could the filmmaker have got it so wrong? He blames the error on researchers he says he has since dismissed.
"I do need to take responsibility for these things in terms of these were errors that sort of spun out of control," filmmaker Imran Raza said. "I have to take responsibility for the mistakes. I take responsibility for the error in the allegation that Osama bin Laden was there. I take responsibility for the error that some of the Taliban leaders were there."
CNN learned about brothers, Noor and Mehboob Khan, ages 17 and 16, when Raza offered CNN the documentary this summer. The film focuses on the brothers, whose father, a Pakistani-born taxi driver in Atlanta, Georgia, sent them to Pakistan to get them in touch with their religious heritage.
In the film, Raza describes the teens as captives being force-fed radical jihad. In interviews over three years, the boys describe their longing for America and say the terrorist attacks of September 11 weren't carried out by Muslims. One of the brothers described punishment by beatings at the madrassa.
Raza started a campaign to return the boys to the United States. McCaul offered to help, even asking Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to intervene.
Back in Atlanta, Noor Khan said the whole experience gave him a better appreciation of America, his family and his faith.
"I am glad I was sent to Pakistan because it taught me to be a better person. It taught me to appreciate what I had before, and I knew when I came back I wasn't going to make the same mistake of not appreciating what I have," he said.
He added, "I was never held against my will."
Noor said the "beatings" he referred to in the film were the equivalent of when American teachers years ago used to smack students on their wrists to reinforce a lesson.
"Pakistan is, what, 50 years behind America, so they do the same thing. They take a stick and hit you softly on the hand so you learn a lesson, but that didn't bother me," he said.
Did he see radicalism there?
"Look, I am Muslim, and one of the main things they teach us to do is not to lie," he said. "I witnessed with my own eyes: no Taliban, no Taliban training, no terrorist, no extremism -- nothing at all at the madrassa. The only thing they wanted to do was teach the history of Islam. That's all."
He says the comments of his talking about September 11 in the documentary were twisted and taken out of context. He said what he meant was that the hijackers weren't "true Muslims."
"If those were Muslims, they weren't true Muslims," he said. "We Muslims, we don't kill people. We're not terrorists. ... We're not violent people. We just want to live a happy life."
He then sought to make clear: "I've never met the Taliban; no one showed me how do any terrorist training or activities. I've never witnessed that with my own eyes, and when the media comes to our madrassa, our principal tells to their face, 'All the classes, all the rooms are open to you. You are free to go wherever you want.' "
Pakistan's religious affairs ministry said the Jamia Binoria school is a moderate Islamic institution. A U.S. State Department source confirmed that, saying the school "is known to U.S. officials as a moderate institution, favored by Pakistani-Americans for its moderate and tolerant Islamic instruction."
In fact, a report by the International Crisis Group -- provided by McCaul's office and the documentary filmmaker -- says the Jamia Binoria Madrassa is often mistaken for another. "Because of its name, this madrassa is often confused with the more prominent and powerful Binori Town Madrassa," the report says.
The other madrassa is the one that intelligence sources say is the school bin Laden visited and, according to the report, is the "fountainhead of Deobandi militancy countrywide. ... It also boasts close ties to the Taliban."...
CNN has lost its mind:
Christine Fair of the RAND Corporation disputes CNN: Fair spoke to the Khan brothers while visiting Jamia Binoria in 2006. "It was clear that they were there against their will," she told me. "I was appalled that no one was concerned." The Binoria madrassa is "notorious," Fair says, not because it actually trains militants, but because of its radical ideology - which even despises Muslims of different sects. Madrassas like Jamia Binoria, she says, "are places for recruiting."
Look what the headmaster of the madrassa told the Times of London: "Mr Naeem insisted that his seminary did not train students for military jihad, but added somewhat ambiguously that none of his charges was allowed to fight in Afghanistan “without permission”. "