TORONTO - Last week, on Michael Coren's Agenda show on Sun News TV, Steve Emerson discussed realities of Islam in America in a way that is seldom heard, but is hard to dispute.
Coren, himself, seemed somewhat shaken by his guest's knowledge and warnings about the future. Not many speak with Emerson's authority.
According to Emerson, something like 95% of the mosques and Muslim organizations in America, are dominated or influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Islamist party and extends throughout the world with links to terrorism and jihadism.
Started in Egypt in 1928, the MB began as politically activist involved in Islamic charities. Its slogan "Islam is the Solution" viewed Sharia law as the basis of society. Although it preached peace and non-violence, the Brotherhood has been linked with terror and assassinations. It has been banned in some countries (Syria, for one, Russia for another), but its tentacles are everywhere.
Emerson is Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, and is arguably America's most knowledgeable expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism. His books and TV documentary Terrorists Among Us(itls) (updated after 9/11), stress that while most Muslims are moderate, Islamic extremism (or radicalism, or jihadism), are America's greatest threat -- not only to Jews, Christians and democratic institutions, but to moderate Muslims who resist the call to wage holy war.
Emerson has long been on jihadist death lists.
During the Coren interview, he noted that Canada has largely escaped — or resisted – Islamic extremism. That is, the pervasive influence of radical Islam has not achieved the same traction in Canada as it has in the U.S., Britain and Europe.
Perhaps that is because Muslim numbers here are not as great as elsewhere. Then again, perhaps it is because life in Canada is more balanced and accommodating than other places.
Or perhaps Islamic extremists don't have the same support here – especially when we have moderate Muslims with the courage to stand up, like Tarek Fatah founder or the Muslim Canadian Congress, and Farzana Hassan who (among other things) opposed the idea of a $100 million, 13-storey Islamic Centre and mosque near the site of New York's Ground Zero.
Would that the Canadian media and politicians were as resolute as Fatah and Hassan and other quieter Muslim voices of restraint and sanity.
Emerson's books, documentaries and research have put him in the bullseye of jihadists. He routinely testifies before Congressional and intelligence committees. Even the New York Times(itls) defers to him as an expert of Islam activities in America, despite preferring to avoid apocalypse thinking when it comes to Islamic extremism.
Emerson rarely pulls punches.
He thinks U.S. President Obama is more sympathetic to Islam than he should be, and notes that when he assumed office, Obama's first goal was to build bridges to the Islamic world. Fair enough, but he says Obama has never, not once, used the phrase or condemned "radical Islam."
Obama's gestures towards Islam (witness his speech of conciliation in Cairo, prior to the "Arab Spring" rebellion and ousting of Hosin Murbarak) have largely been unproductive, and reduced America's influence.
I first came across Emerson at the time of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, which the Clinton administration insisted on treating as a domestic crime and not as an international terrorist incident.
With some difficulty, I got Emerson's phone number and we talked about the 1993 World Trade bombing. He was reasonable and factual, with none of the paranoid fixations that conspiracy buffs often have regarding their convictions. He was adamant that downplaying the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing was wrong, and a guarantee that something similar would happen again — as it did on 9/11.
Emerson is basically a journalist, having worked for U.S. News and World Report(itls) and CNN as an investigative correspondent, concentrating on security and terrorism. He's also been an investigator for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Some 20 years ago, Emerson discovered that what was being discussed and preached in mosques was contrary to the benign façade that was displayed to the public.
His watershed 1994 documentary, Terrorists Among Us(itls), provoked the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to call it "a wild theory about an Islamic terrorist network in America." The FBI wasn't so dismissive, and informed Emerson that a militant Muslim group in South Africa was intent on sending a hit-team to assassinate him.
In 1996, Emerson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that something called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was the prime fund-raising body in the U.S. for Hamas. Eleven years later, in 2007, charges were laid against the Holy Land Foundation for funding Hamas and terrorist organizations.
Then, in 2009, the founders of HLF were given life sentences for directing $12 million to Hamas.
Richard Clarke, former boss of counter-terrorism for the U.S. National Security Council, has called Emerson "the Paul Revere of terrorism." Not a bad description. Some newspapers in the Arab world have accused, or blamed Emerson for "Islamaphobia" they think infects the West.
In response, Emerson's documentary, Terrorist Among Us(itls) (available from amazon.com) points out that as a faith, Islam condemns acts of terrorism. It's Islamic extremists who wage jihadist war who are as great a threat to moderate Muslims as they are to those they regard as infidels (i.e. Western countries).
One hopes Michael Coren and Sun TV have Steve Emerson on again – Canada needs periodic doses of realism.
It's unlikely the CBC would give Emerson a platform. It prefers CAIR.