Archive for Steven Emerson

Steven Emerson of the anti-Muslim Movement has Millions of reasons to fear Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by loonwatch

Does anyone profit from spreading anti-Muslim fear? Some do

BY BOB SMIETANA (the Tennessean)

Steven Emerson has 3.39 million reasons to fear Muslims.

That’s how many dollars Emerson’s for-profit company – Washington-based SAE Productions – collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they’re in imminent danger from Muslims.

Emerson is a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances.

Leaders of the so-called “anti-jihad” movement portray themselves as patriots, defending America against radical Islam. And they’ve found an eager audience in ultra-conservative Christians and mosque opponents in Tennessee. One national consultant testified in an ongoing lawsuit aimed at stopping a new Murfreesboro mosque.

But beyond the rhetoric, Emerson’s organization’s tax-exempt status is facing questions at the same time he’s accusing Muslim groups of tax improprieties.

“Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit,” said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. “It’s wrong. This is off the charts.”

But a spokesman for Emerson’s company said the actions were legal and designed to protect workers there from death threats.

“It’s all done for security reasons,” said Ray Locker, a spokesman for SAE Productions.

Emerson made his name in the mid-1990s with a documentary film, “Jihad in America,” which aired on PBS. Produced after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the film uncovered terrorists raising money in the United States.

He followed up with the books “Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S.” and “American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us.”

He claims that extremists control 80 percent of mosques in the United States. In August, he claimed to have uncovered 13 hours of audiotapes proving that Feisal Rauf, the imam behind the proposed mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, is a radical extremist.

Emerson formed a Tennessee connection last summer, when his organization uncovered pictures on a Murfreesboro mosque board member’s MySpace page. His company said the pictures are proof of a connection to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization. But mosque leaders said they checked with the Department of Homeland Security and found the concerns were groundless.

Special Agent Keith Moses, who heads the FBI’s Nashville office, told The Tennessean last month that the bureau doesn’t discuss specific allegations.

Others cash in@

While large organizations like Emerson’s aren’t the norm, other local and national entrepreneurs cash in on spreading hate and fear about Islam.

Former Tennessee State University physics professor Bill French runs the Nashville-based, for-profit Center for the Study of Political Islam. He spoke recently to a group of opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque gathered at a house in Murfreesboro.

With an American flag as a backdrop, French paced back and forth like the Church of Christ ministers he heard growing up. His message: Creeping Shariah law is undermining the very fabric of American life.

“This offends Allah,” said French, pointing to the flag on the wall. “You offend Allah.”

French, who has no formal religious education, believes Islam is not a religion. Instead, he sees Islam and its doctrine and rules – known as Shariah law – as a totalitarian ideology.

In his 45-minute speech, he outlined a kind of 10 commandments of evil – no music, no art, no rights for women – taken from his book “Sharia Law for Non-Muslims.” The speech was free, but his books, penned under the name “Bill Warner,” were for sale in the back and ranged from about $9 to $20.

When he was done, the 80 or so mosque opponents gave him a standing ovation and then began buying French’s books to hand out to their friends.

Frank Gaffney, head of the Washington-based nonprofit Center for Security Policy, earned a $288,300 salary from his charity in 2008. Gaffney was a key witness in recent hearings in the Rutherford County lawsuit filed by mosque opponents. He said he paid his own way.

On the stand, the Reagan-era deputy assistant defense secretary accused local mosque leaders of having ties to terrorism, using ties to Middle Eastern universities and politics as evidence. His main source of information was his own report on Shariah law as a threat to America, one he wrote with other self-proclaimed experts.

But, under oath, he admitted he is not an expert in Shariah law.

The list of people on the anti-Islam circuit goes on. IRS filings from 2008 show that Robert Spencer, who runs the Jihadwatch.org blog, earned $132,537 from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative nonprofit.

Brigitte Tudor, who runs the anti-Islam groups ACT! For America and the American Congress for Truth, earned $152,810, while her colleague Guy Rogers collected $154,900.

Unusual arrangement@

Emerson’s older organization collects several times that in an average year.

Emerson incorporated his for-profit company, SAE Productions, in Delaware in 1995. He launched the nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation in Washington in 2006.

But he doesn’t make that distinction on his website, www.investigativeproject.org, which describes the Investigative Project on Terrorism as “a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995.” And today, the two groups share the same Washington street address, which is published on Emerson’s personal website.

In 2002 and 2003, despite lacking nonprofit status, Emerson received a total of $600,000 in grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation, a conservative public-policy shaper based in Connecticut. The foundation declined to comment on the grants but said it gives money only to tax-exempt charitable groups.

Giving money to a for-profit is extremely rare for foundations, said Peter Bird, president of the Nashville-based Frist Foundation. It can happen only when the foundation keeps meticulous records on how the money was spent by the group that received it.

“It almost never happens,” he said.

Locker, a former USA TODAY national security editor now working for SAE Productions, said his organization does not discuss funding.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation’s application for tax-exempt status stated that all the money raised by the charity would go to a nonprofit subcontractor with no ties to Emerson or any board members. The application also said the charity would buy no services from board members. Emerson ended up being the only board member.

In a letter dated Dec. 8, 2006, the IRS asked if there would be any ties between the subcontractor and the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation. On Dec. 29, 2006, Emerson wrote back: “There are and will be no financial/business transactions between officers, board members or relatives of the aforementioned and applicant organization.”

In 2008, however, the charity paid $3,390,000 to SAE Productions for “management services.” Emerson is SAE’s sole officer.

Because of its unusual arrangement with Emerson’s company, the Investigative Project’s tax returns show no details, such as salaries of staff.

Locker said the approach was vetted by the group’s lawyers and is legal. He said that Emerson takes no profits from SAE Productions and therefore the Investigative Project is a nonprofit.

That doesn’t fly, said Charity Navigator’s Berger. Berger said tax-exempt nonprofits must be transparent and disclose how they spend money and how much they pay their staff. Emerson’s group appears to be trying to skirt these rules, he said.

“It really undermines the trust in nonprofits,” he said. “This is really off the grid.”

The Frist Foundation’s Bird said the discrepancy between the Investigative Project’s application to the IRS and its practices is troubling.

“It looks like they told the government one thing and did another,” he said.

 

Rabbis Arrested: What if They Were Imams?

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by loonwatch

rabbis

In a new case of corruption and political intrigue a group of Mayors from Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus New Jersey, and five Rabbis were among 44 people charged by the US with public corruption and money laundering.

The corruption probe, based in Hudson County, netted many public officials accused of pledging assistance for bribes. A cooperating witness in that probe also infiltrated a “pre- existing money laundering network” that moved “at least tens of millions of dollars through charitable, nonprofit entities controlled by rabbis in New York and New Jersey,” according to a release by acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra…The rabbis were charged with laundering money that often was sent to Israel.

The attorney was on the record stating that though they arrested a “number of Rabbis” it did not make this a “religiously motivated case.” These should be comforting words to practitioners of the Jewish Faith and of course reaffirms what is well known in American justice, “You are innocent until proven guilty.” It does, however, highlight the contradictions within our society. Contradictions that are all too apparent to American Muslims.

Let us consider what would have happened if those arrested were not Rabbis, instead, let us say that they were Imams. What would have happened? At the very least, the rabid anti-Muslim blogosphere would be in a fit, Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer would be linking it to selective pages of 8th century Muslim law books and proclaiming it as all part of Islam’s attempt to take over the world through “Stealth Jihad.” Debbie Schlussel, would be decrying the “inherent criminality” of Islam, while Steven Emerson would proclaim that he has been warning of the “Islamic financial threat” to the West for years. Even in the mainstream media there would be some form of discussion revolving around Islam’s role in influencing the criminal enterprise.

The evident double standards here are hardly noticed in any news outlet. The Rabbis’ faith was not disparaged, nor was any insinuation made that their religion had any bearing on their involvement with the alleged criminal actions — rightly so. But is it too much to ask that when the Islamophobes and other loons come across a similar case in which there are allegations of criminality against Muslims that they should give the same “benefit of the doubt” that they would give to other Faiths such as Judaism and Christianity?

It is a tall order, I know, because the anti-Muslims are motivated by nothing other than a hate for Muslims, and applying a consistent methodology that would distinguish between Faith and Faithful hurts their argument that Islam is the boogey-man monster underneath your bed.

Tawfik Hamid: The Shemp of the Three Stooges

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by loonwatch
Tawfik Hamid

Tawfik Hamid

In one of our earliest features we wrote about the Three Stooges of Islamophobia: Walid Shoebat, Zachariah Anani and Kamal Saleem who represent Larry, Curly, and Mo, but in the same way as there is Shemp, there is also Tawfik Hamid.

Tawfik Hamid, like his counterparts, describes himself as an “ex-terrorist” but as we will come to see his claims are as vacuous and silly as the other three.  The difference between the other three and Tawfik Hamid is that the other three claim to be converts to Evangelical Christianity while Hamid vacillates between claiming to be not only a Muslim and an Islamic Reformer but also a follower of Judaism and Christianity and in other instances a non religious person.

In 2007, Hamid served as a keynote speaker for the neo-Conservative  Intelligence Summit and now sits on their advisory board. Amongst the other speakers at the summit, such as Steven Emerson, Joe Kaufman, Nonie Darwish and Walid Phares, there was David Gaubatz, a white supremacist, who led the now defunct Mapping Sharia project (under the tutelage of Society of Americans for National Existence or SANE) which stated that Black people are predisposed to violence,

Is there something unique about the Black American…that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own? Do we see patterns of Black culture that arise out of Africa and the wanton murder of blacks by blacks there? Why have the colonized blacks of the African continent, after having acquired their freedom and independence, so willingly slaughtered their own and live in despicable disease and squalor despite a land of enormous riches while Indians of the Indian sub-continent have successfully moved from British rule to democracy and relative civility even in a country that still maintains social inequalities as a fact of their culture?

Gaubatz, in 2007, was a leading member of SANE which declared on its now password protected site that, “adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US.” It wants the government to ban adherence to Islam and put Muslims under surveillance as stated in its rules, “It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.”

If this sounds unbelievably deranged, that’s because it is. We don’t make these facts up. Why would any sane, normal Muslim let alone Muslim reformer as Tawfik proclaims himself to be — speak at a hostile summit in which one of the participants wants to ban him from practicing his faith and make it a punishable offense? One answer is that Tawfik isn’t a Muslim and in fact hates Islam and Muslims which would also mean he is a charlatan. The other answer, which is related to the first, is that this is just part of the strange and twisted world that is produced when those chasing the Islamophobic cash cow converge together and let their strange and contradictory pathologies manifest like an insane asylum having a picnic (apologies to insane asylum’s).

Hamid says that he is a former member of the terrorist organization GI (Gamaa’ Islamiyya) and was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahri, the number two man in Al-Qaeda. A claim that is not corroborated by any independent sources or governmental law agency. Again the million dollar question is, If this guy is a former terrorist then why aren’t the CIA and FBI all over this guy, watching his movements and interrogating him? Wouldn’t it be a point of interest for our government that someone who was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahari, the number two of Al-Qaeda, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is roaming around the country giving speeches? Either Tawfik is lying or our government has missed a big one.

On his new website, Tawfik identifies himself as “a Muslim by faith…Christian by the Spirit…a Jew by heart…and above all I am a human being.” This is a sharp departure from his previous statements in which he stated, “I am a Muslim by birth, a Christian by spirit, a Jew by heart, and above all I am a human being.” Someone must have told Tawfik that it might help his claim to be a “Muslim reformer” if he actually claims Islam as his “faith” instead of just something he was “born” into.

Richard Silverstein, who runs Tikun Olam, did a piece on Hamid after getting an email from Walid Shoebat’s list-serve that Tawfik Hamid would be speaking at Georgetown University. In it he devastatingly highlights the contradictions as well as obvious hate that Tawfik Hamid has for Islam and Muslims.

In Richard’s piece we also see a description of Tawfik on Shoebat’s website that is not there anymore. Notice the similarities between the biographies of Tawfik and Walid,

Here’s what Shoebat’s website tells you about Hamid:

Born in Egypt to a secular Muslim family. At the age of 16 young Hamid started to search for answers to the universal questions about creation and life’s meaning.

Later on, Tawfik started to read the bible as an attempt to criticise it in the ongoing religious debates between Muslims and Christians, but ended up studying the Bible with increased vigour and genuine interest.

If you compare that last paragraph to Shoebat’s own biography at the same site you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy:

Walid studied the Tanach (Jewish Bible) in a challenge to convert his wife to Islam. Six months later, after intense study, Walid realized that everything he had been taught about Jews was a lie. Convinced he was on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy.

It seems that these two “ex-terrorists” weren’t creative enough to come up with differing stories and instead didn’t think anyone would see the similarities in their testimonials. As Richard wrote, “you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy.”

Tawfik Hamid at the time of Richard’s article was charging $13, 500 for “speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism that prevails in the world today.”

Yet it seems that Tawfik like his Christian Zionist counterparts doesn’t stop at speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism but instead also speaks out against mainstream Muslims. For instance on the Orla Barry Radio Show he stated that,

There are different degrees of evil [within Islam]. Jemaah Islamiya represents the active evil or active terrorists let us call them who are ready to commit violent acts and all such atrocities. But the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.

According to Tawfik the majority of Muslims are what he terms passive terrorists. This reveals a great contempt for Muslims who he views as nothing more than terrorists in one form or another. For him most Muslims are not law abiding individuals and even if they don’t commit violence or preach it then secretly they are still terrorists. This trope that is used by Islamophobes pretty much assumes Muslims are all guilty before proven innocent and that they are inherently violent.

Tawfik’s bumbling and inconsistent story in which at times he is a Muslim reformer, at other times a Muslim only by birth, then a Christian and a Jew or his declarations that most of his coreligionists are passive terrorists, his sharing the stage with white supremacists and well known Islamophobes and becoming a member of their advisory council is hard to follow let alone comprehend. It is contradictory and as we see quite lucrative — he fits in perfectly as Shemp to the Larry, Curly and Mo of Islamophobia.

Steven Emerson: “Wowser!”

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Flashback, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on May 6, 2009 by loonwatch
inspector_gadget

Inspector Gadget

Steven Emerson, a pillar of the Islamophobic movement, promotes himself as an “Investigative journalist” exposing terrorism and the supposed “fifth column activities of American Muslims” through his Orwellian organization, The Investigative Project.  He claims, just as his counterparts Douglas Farah and Joe Kaufman do, that all his work is done in defense of America and in order to safeguard the homeland.  Yet his claims are as mendacious and exaggerated as the other two.

He is simply the progenitor of some of the vilest, most imbecilic anti-Muslim hysteria on the inter-net and in America today. This is the case because more often than not he is so off the mark in his accusations and conclusions that it makes you wonder why anyone would take him seriously as a so-called “Investigative Journalist.”

His hunt to “expose” American Muslims is almost akin to watching an  Inspector Gadget cartoon because of its hilarity if it weren’t for the fact that at least Inspector Gadget was sincere and actually solved a case or two. Unfortunately, it looks like Emerson lacks the high tech gadgetry that was at the disposal of Inspector Gadget and that might show him the error of his ways or at the very least help him  get his foot out of his mouth.

Instead of using a magnifying glass to look for evidence, Emerson’s technique of choice is to make up the evidence as he goes along,  Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent notes:

Emerson has a long history of getting into hot water over his anti-Muslim rhetoric. In the 1998 nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan, Emerson fed reporters with an informant who said Pakistan was set to strike India with a nuclear weapon. The media eventually found the informant to be unreliable – but not until international media had used Emerson’s source and intensified an international crisis.

In 1990, he was accused of plagiarism in his writings about Pan Am 103.

….

He sued a Florida paper after it published reports that he was supplying reporters with documents he said were from the FBI. The Florida Weekly Planet reported that the documents were frauds and Emerson sued. When he couldn’t substantiate his claims, he withdrew the lawsuit.

Emerson once claimed that an extremist Muslim group put out a hit on him and that the FBI offered to put him in a witness protection program. The FBI denied that claim.

In 1995, right after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Emerson was quoted on air stating that he believed the bombing showed “a Middle Eastern trait,” he came to this conclusion because according to him it was done “to inflict as many casualties as possible.” Wowser!

He went on to insinuate, with out providing any evidence, that Oklahoma was a hotbed of radicalism, “Oklahoma City, I can tell you, is probably considered one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside the Middle East.” Double wowser!

Of course, it was later proven that the real culprits behind the bombings were Timothy McVeigh and

Steven Emerson

Steven Emerson

a few other accomplices that were driven by a nationalistic white ideology and not by Muslims or Arabs. Emerson in his haste it seems did not consider the possibility that maybe something originating from other than the Middle East was responsible for the bombing, nor did he apologize for his gaffe.

This is par for the course with Steven Emerson and his motivation is quite plain as the Wall Street Journal stated in 1993, “Mr. Emerson’s prime role is to whitewash Israeli governments and revile their critics.” The Jerusalem Post has also asserted that Emerson has close ties to the Israeli equivalent of the CIA-the Mossad.

Does Emerson have an unconditional bias towards Israel and an incentive in portraying Arabs and Muslims as terrorists behind all evil? Sure seems like it!

Anyone who is critical of Israeli actions and brings to light that it might not be in American interests to put our unconditional backing behind every Israeli adventure gives Emerson a compulsive fit, and when anyone calls him out on it he returns to the smear job of casting those he disagrees with as Anti-Semites. Johnathan F. Sugg, formerly of the Tampa Bay Weekly Planet wrote for Alternet,

“He has been run out of many respectable newsrooms. His response was the smear job. When The Washington Post shunned him, he branded the paper pro-Hamas.’ When the Miami Herald strafed Emerson’s shoddy claims, he wrote the city’s Jewish leaders claiming the paper’s reporter was nothing short of racist.”

Jane Hunter in a piece for Extra! characterized Emerson’s journalism as “nimble in its treatment of facts, often credulous of intelligence sources, and almost invariably supportive of the Israeli government.”

Former Chief of Operations and Analysis at the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center Vince Cannistraro described Emerson as “dishonest” and “Joseph McCarthy-like” and said that, “word has got around on what he (Emerson) is, that he’s a paid polemicist, not a journalist.”

This is the modus operandi of our “Investigative Journalist,” who it seems is more of an Inspector Gadget wannabe just without all the hardware.  He is driven by a desire not to safe guard America from dangerous threats but to exaggerate them and sell his agenda of smearing American Muslims and Arabs through any means necessary. To that we can only say “Wowser!”