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The founder and executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism think tank, Emerson regularly crops up as an "expert on Islamic terrorism" (New York Times, 1/16/01) in national media outlets ranging from the New York Times and Washington Post to CNN and NBC News (where he is employed as an analyst); he specializes in advancing allegations linking Muslim groups in the U.S. to fundamentalist Islamic international terrorism.
A proponent of a theory that "the U.S. has become occupied fundamentalist territory" (Jerusalem Post, 8/8/97), he has written (Jewish Monthly, 3/95; Extra! 7=8/95) that "the level of vitriol against Jews and Christianity within contemporary Islam...sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine." Veteran reporter Robert Friedman accused Emerson of "creating mass hysteria against American Arabs" (Nation, 5/15/95) with his film Jihad in America.
As a consultant for an Associated Press series about American Muslim groups, Emerson presented AP reporters with what he claimed were FBI documents describing mainstream American Muslim groups with alleged terrorist sympathies, according to the AP series' lead writer, Richard Cole (Extra!, 7=8/95). However, Cole said that AP staff discovered that the dossier was almost identical to one earlier authored by Emerson himself. Emerson's FBI dossier "was really his," according to Cole. "He had edited out all phrases, taken out anything that made it look like his."
Emerson erroneously blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Middle Eastern groups, proclaiming on CBS Evening News (4/19/95; Extra! 1=2/99): "This was done with the attempt to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait." He said on CNBC (8/23/96) that "it was a bomb that brought down TWA Flight 800"; investigations by the National Transportation Safety Agency (8/23/00) and the FBI (11/18/97) concluded otherwise. He also misidentified (CNN, 3/2/93) the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing--blaming it, ironically enough, on Yugoslavians, when the people convicted of the attack were Arabs.
Despite his track record, he continues to be identified as a "terrorism expert" (Fox News Hannity & Colmes, 1/11/08; NBC Today, 6/4/07, Wall Street Journal, 6/6/07). Emerson can still be heard testifying in congressional committees on terrorism (CQ Congressional Testimony, 4/9/08, 7/31/08), as well as on the media, in the middle of discussions about Islamic terrorism, warning (CNBC's Kudlow & Company, 6/8/07) of the FBI's failure to "battle...groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other jihadists that don't break the law."