Why the Islamists Target Steve Emerson
by Stephen Schwartz
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), one of the most adroit and deceptive Islamist groups in America, is preparing its fourth annual convention, which will be held in Long Beach, CA on December 18. It is beyond predictability that this unfortunate event, with participation by some of America's worst apologists for and adherents of Islamist extremism, will hear from its podium extensive complaints that American Muslims are targets of slander, hate, and threats from ordinary non-Muslims, and protests against "ethnic profiling," as well as other forms of purported harassment, by law enforcement.
But the same MPAC that comports itself as if it had no Islamist nature whatever, and had only just heard about Wahhabism and other radical doctrines, also targets and even profiles people. That was what MPAC chief executive Salam al-Marayati did on radio within hours of the September 11 atrocities. According to The New York Times of October 22, 2001, he told station KCRW, "If we're going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies."
MPAC targets people, and with the release of propaganda for their convention, they have selected an impressive range of individuals they hope to marginalize. On the garish poster they have put on line, at www.mpac.org, five individuals are shown, identified as "THE FACES THAT ARE ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT TERRORISM:" Osama bin Laden, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, Rev. Pat Robertson, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and terrorism expert Steven Emerson, who heads the Investigative Project, the most comprehensive counter-terrorist institute in the world today. The Investigative Project is uniquely effective in tracking the activities of Islamic militant groups.
The poster declares on behalf of MPAC, "Now It's Our Turn," allegedly to "counter religious and political extremism." The messages are multiple and clear: Daniel Pipes is comparable to Osama bin Laden, i.e. a terrorist. The Bush administration, of which Secretary Rumsfeld is a key member, is the equivalent of bin Laden's conspiracy.
But what is the message about -- and to -- Steven Emerson? Emerson does not concern himself with historical issues involving Islam, as Pipes and Robertson, the latter from the viewpoint of evangelical Christianity, do. And Steven Emerson is not responsible for guiding America's military, as Rumsfeld is. Of course, the inclusion of Emerson in the same circle with bin Laden has the subtext that Emerson is a villain on par with bin Laden.
The main aims of MPAC is, first, to cement an image of the Bush Administration as an enemy of Islam (significantly mirroring the same accusation that Ayman al-Zawahiri has levelled against America). MPAC has never seriously addressed the issues behind Bin Ladenite terrorism, except to make perfunctory statements against it, and they will not. Indeed, MPAC is an ideological offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood. As such, its officials have consistently refused to condemn by name Hamas, Hizbollah or any other Islamic extremist movement. Bin Laden's inclusion among their targets is gratuitous, designed to falsely portray MPAC as opposing Islamic extremism, when in fact it has served as an apologist for militant Islam
The second major goal is to discredit Americans who understand what Islamism and terrorism are about and who, like Emerson, have uncovered the terrorist networks established in the U.S. For MPAC, whose real agenda is to protect the militant networks, the appropriate tactic is, again, to try to portray Emerson as an enemy of Islam, when for the last 10 years, Emerson's work has exclusively involved investigating and exposing terrorist financing, recruitment, and other criminal conspiratorial activities.
Emerson, of all the five faces, is targeted more for what he does than what he says, although he speaks frequently on MSNBC as a terrorism expert and he and his staff are quoted frequently in the national and international media. His presence on TV, as much as his content, sticks in MPAC's craw, even though Emerson's investigations, analysis and statements have invariably been devastatingly accurate. Government agencies and congressional leaders have frequently sought Emerson's input and information because of his vast archives on militant Islamic groups and his key role in laying the groundwork for prosecutions, indictments, asset forfeitures, and major media investigations.
The Islamists, including MPAC with its interfaith sweet talk and moderate posturing, are afraid of the light of day being shone upon their financial resources, their history of associations with extremist groups, their complicity in the radicalization of American Islam, and their accommodation to extreme ideologies and terrorist claims.
Emerson has done more than any other individual to expose these dangers to the safety of our country and of the majority of law-abiding American Muslims. For this, he is targeted for obloquy, and, in fact, for barely-concealed threats. Yet, as MPAC knows, Emerson is uniquely respected by government and law enforcement agencies, by national security journalists, and by the American public.
Emerson's 2002 best-seller, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us, is an indispensable manual for every American concerned for the safety of his or her person and family, and for American government. It follows other major contributions by Emerson, including his 1985 book The American House of Saud, which anticipated my own Two Faces of Islam and remains a key volume on the shelf of every Saudi analyst. It also builds on Emerson's 1994 PBS documentary, Jihad in America, which revealed the existence of a secret Islamic terrorist network in the United States. It is a measure of Emerson's incredible investigative skills that nearly all of the cells and Islamic militants he exposed in the film were indicted at the time the documentary was released, or were indicted following 9/11. Emerson's congressional testimonies since 9/11 on terror financing and the cell structure in the United States have only reinforced Emerson's reputation as the leading investigator of militant Islamic networks in the United States today.
MPAC has advertised a conference that will be one long recitation of condemnations. Bin Laden will be condemned because to fail to do so would make MPAC even more vulnerable than it already is. Pipes' name will be yelled out as if at a Soviet hate rally, as will that of Robertson. It is doubtful much verbiage will be expended on Rumsfeld, since he is still in office and MPAC is terrified of the Bush administration -- not because of what the administration has done to them or any of their friends, but because of what they imagine the administration would do to them if all their questionable activities were thoroughly investigated.
I predict Steve Emerson's name will be reserved for the most dramatic moments in the stylized theatre of alleged victimization of American Muslims. That is only because, more than even Pipes, to say nothing of Rumsfeld or Robertson, Emerson knows how the terror financing networks function. MPAC knows it can do nothing to impede Rumsfeld or Robertson, so all the noise is really about Pipes and Emerson.
And who has MPAC chosen to present its fatwa-style defamations?
All the big guns of American Islamism, plus a few of their dupes, aligned to foil Pipes and, above all, Steven Emerson! Emerson should be proud. But the Islamists will not prevail. Truth, of which Emerson is an outstanding defender and partisan, will prevail. MPAC should save themselves the trouble and cancel their hatefest. However much they may wish it were not true, Islamism will be defeated in America, in large part thanks to the efforts begun and continued by Steven Emerson.
Related Topics: American Muslims, September 11, Wahhabism receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free center for islamic pluralism mailing list
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