March 22, 2023
Steven Emerson — Investigative Project on Terrorism
Steve Emerson is a self-described “expert on terrorism” who has claimed that the Obama administration “extensively collaborates” with the Muslim Brotherhood; asserted that Europe is riddled with “no-go zones” and is “finished” because of Muslim immigration; and stated that 480 million to 640 million Muslims “support the notion that it’s okay to bomb the World Trade Center,” among other things.
A reviewer for The New York Times Book Review said a 1991 book he co-authored on terrorism was marred by “a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias.” Despite this sorry record, Emerson, a former journalist who started the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 1995, has been repeatedly interviewed on Fox News, testified on several occasions to Congress, and been cited by government officials as an authority. But Emerson’s reputation took a huge hit in January 2015, when he claimed that Birmingham, England, was a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims and that in parts of London “Muslim religious police … actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone” not wearing “religious Muslim attire.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron responded by calling Emerson “clearly a complete idiot,” and Ofcom, which regulates the British media, said the comments were “materially misleading.”
In 1997, Emerson was accused of giving The Associated Press documents he claimed were from the FBI but were really written by him. The Tennessean reported in October 2010 that in 2008, Emerson’s nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism “paid $3,390,000 to [Emerson’s for-profit firm] SAE Productions for ‘management services.’ Emerson is SAE’s sole officer.” The paper quoted Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, saying, “Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit,” he said. “It’s wrong. This is off the charts.”
  • In a Jan. 7, 2015, interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Emerson expounded at length on his baseless claims about “no-go zones.” “Throughout Europe, Sean, you have no-go zones. … This goes on in Belgium, this goes on in Sweden, in France, it goes on it Italy, it goes on throughout Europe. So there are no-go zones,” he told Hannity. “These are semi-autonomous countries within countries, in which the federal governments there have basically surrendered their autonomy, surrendered their authority.”
  • In the same Jan. 7, 2015, interview with Fox News, Emerson claimed that Department of Homeland Security officers in overseas U.S. embassies have “been told to look away” when foreign visa applicants have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, “even to ISIS,” and to allow them to come to the United States despite those links. “I can tell you that personally,” Emerson insisted without evidence, calling the alleged practice “Orwellian.”
  • “I think they’ve reached critical mass, frankly,” Emerson said of Europe in the same Jan. 7, 2015, Fox News interview. “I think Europe is finished.”
  • Emerson promoted his film, “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception” in a Sept. 23, 2012, Fox News interview, saying it “show[ed] the extensive collaboration between the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. It’s pretty shocking.” He continued: “I think Mr. Obama is not necessarily a Muslim, I don’t believe that; I think he’s pro-Islamist.”
  • In a bizarre March 17, 2011, comment to TV host Glenn Beck, Emerson claimed without evidence that “in Mexico today, they’re teaching Palestinian militants how to dig tunnels that will evade detection in Gaza.”
  • On Jan. 11, 2015, Emerson told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who wholeheartedly endorsed his claims, that “these no-go zones exist not only in France, but they exist throughout Europe,” describing them as “zones where Shariah courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost.” He went on to claim that in Britain, “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go. And [in] parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.” In fact, Birmingham is about 22 percent Muslim, and the no-go zone claim was entirely false. In the end, Fox News apologized four times on air and Emerson said he’d committed a “terrible error.” Neither mentioned that he had made similar claims repeatedly, including four days earlier on Fox.
  • On Sept. 7, 2011, speaking on the “Truth That Transforms with Jerry Newcome” radio show, Emerson said that “at least 30 percent to 40 percent [of Muslims] support cultural jihad. That is, at least, they support the notion that it’s okay to blow up a bus of Israelis, it’s okay to bomb the World Trade Center, it’s okay to impose the Shariah, the code of Islamic law, it’s okay to beat women or wives as part of Shariah.” With 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, Emerson was claiming that 480 million to 640 million Muslims support Islamist terrorism, an exponentially overblown assertion, according to several serious polls.
  • On April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, Emerson claimed that the attack had “a Middle Eastern trait” and added that Oklahoma City was “probably considered one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside of the Middle East.” He was entirely wrong on both counts.

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