Open Letter to the BBC

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
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To the editors of the BBC,

Your appalling “Muslim Brotherhood expands westward” by Magdi Abdelhadi  seems entirely based on two writers who have no academic qualifications or credibility and one of whom has a long history of extreme right-wing religious bigotry.  The premise, pushed by Steven Emerson and several extreme right organizations like the Committee for the Present Danger and David Horowitz’s “Front Page” (the creator of “Islamo-Fascist Week”, who regularly republishes Emerson’s work), is that the Muslim Brotherhood has underground organizations plotting terror throughout the west.  It would be laughable if it were not so pernicious.

Perhaps your writer might Google Steven Emerson’s name before you base an entire story on his fantastic and hateful views.

Some examples:

“controversial terrorism expert Steve Emerson-who has been accused of sloppy journalism and with having a pervasive anti-Arab bias-and behind the scenes was remaking himself into a self-styled authority on terrorism” (, January 19, 2002).

Emerson was the prime mover behind the extreme-right “documentary” “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” which extreme-right groups produced to be distributed during the 2008 US presidential campaign.  It argued that Islam “is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western civilization under the yoke of its values.”

Isabel Macdonald noted of Emerson in 2008 that:

“his research has been repudiated many times over. This is an “expert” who initially blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Middle Eastern terrorists, and who is now going around claiming that the Bush State Department is collaborating with extremists.”

From the Minnesota Independent:

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.

Emerson told Fox News “80% of the mosques in the United States are controlled by the Wahhabists. That’s the reality. No one wants to admit it. They’re the ones that attract terrorists.”

In March of 1995, Emerson told The Jewish Monthly, “nearly all of the Islamic organizations in the United States that define themselves as religiously or culturally Muslim in character have, today, been totally captured or dominated by radical fundamentalist elements…”

In 1998 Emerson falsely wrote that in the 1960s one of his critics, California journalist Reese Erlich, ‘was charged with conspiracy to carry out violence in support of the Black Panthers.’ Emerson apologized and paid Erlich $3,000,” (Washington Post, November 14, 2001).

Emerson had concluded  before September 11th, that “the U.S. has become occupied fundamentalist territory” (Jerusalem Post, 8/8/97)

Emerson is quoted by The Palm Springs (California) Desert Sun Newspaper as saying that “Islam’s ‘leadership and organizational superstructure’ threaten Western values” and that (radical) Muslims “want to conquer the United States. They want to conquer Europe.”

The Wall Street Journal stated in 1993, “Mr. Emerson’s prime role is to whitewash Israeli governments and revile their critics.”

Emerson appears regularly with Pamela Geller, the woman who is organizing the anti-Mosque protests in NY right now, along with another of Emerson’s regular collaborators, Robert Spencer.  Spencer, author of the “Jihadwatch” blog who regularly equates all Muslims with terrorists, and their religion is “a cult”.  With inspiration from groups like the English Defense League and Dutch neo-fascist Geert Wilders, Spencer and Geller run the group “Stop the Islamization of America”. Emerson regularly contributes to their work.  Emerson has claimed that the Imam of the Islamic Community Center proposed for lower Manhattan Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and former GW Bush era US government advisor, is a “radical extremist cleric who cloaks himself in sheep’s clothing.”

One could go on.

What possible research could your reporter have done to afford this — controversial at best — writer the forum of an entire article showcasing his crackpot theories, which include the belief that every major Muslim-American organization are involved in terrorism though a secret ‘US Muslim Brotherhood” group?

How could someone identified as your “Middle East Editor” be so startlingly ignorant of the background of their sources?

I expect a reply,

T Miles, NY, NY

For a little background on Emerson see:


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