Foundation head: Muslim radicals threaten 'stealth jihad'
Islamic radicals have infiltrated government, law enforcement and the entertainment industry in a "civilizational jihad" to impose Islamic law in the United States, the head of a Washington foundation said yesterday.
Steve Emerson, leader of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee are using the political process in a "stealth jihad" designed, in part, to convince people Islam is under attack.
"There's no war against Islam any more than there's a war against Italians because of a crackdown on the Mafia, or a war against blacks because of a crackdown against gangs, or a war against Orientals because of a crackdown on the Yakuza, or a war against Hispanics because of a crackdown on the Cali Cartel," Emerson said in an interview with the Tribune-Review.
A spokesman for CAIR called Emerson's criticism an attempt to marginalize Muslims.
"It's a handy charge, because then anything any Muslim does is evidence of their nefarious intent," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. "He wants to marginalize Muslims and prevent them from exercising their civil rights."
CAIR was founded in 1994, the same year Emerson's documentary, "Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America," aired on PBS. Emerson said he is working on a sequel.
"We're not stigmatizing all Muslims," Emerson said. "We're only describing the motivational behavior of those that carry out these attacks. And believe me, this is a small percentage of the Muslim community. But you don't see the leadership speaking out, because the leadership is dominated by groups like CAIR."
Hooper pointed to numerous condemnations of terrorist acts by CAIR.
Emerson said the Muslim Public Affairs Committee got Hollywood studios to submit scripts to them for review before movies go into production.
"And what does MPAC do• They strip them of any reference -- negative reference -- to Islam. And what do they consider a negative reference• Having an Islamic terrorist as a protagonist is number one. So popular culture is being stripped of that notion that Islamic extremism exists," Emerson said.
Edina Lekovic, director of programming and policy for the group, called Emerson's claim "silly" and said it "demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding" of how the movie industry works.
"We've consulted on projects like 'Sleeper Cell' on Showtime, which was certainly not a glowing portrayal of Muslims," Lekovic said. "Our goal is to help them get it right, not get it positive."
Emerson said it's difficult to say how pro-democracy movements roiling the Middle East and North Africa color debate in the United States, but the movements pit U.S. interests against U.S. ideals.
"We have a quintessential dilemma between our national security interests and the issue of democracy," Emerson said. "There's going to be a (power) void, and the void usually is filled by those organizations that have the most money, the best organization and best message. And what is that organization• The Muslim Brotherhood.
"So my prediction here, and I could be wrong, is that within a year we will see some of these regimes de facto controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood."
The Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Allegheny Foundation provide funding for Emerson's group, said a spokesman for the foundations.