Anti-Jihad Activist Emerson Embroiled in Fundraising Scandal

On Sunday, the Tennessean published an expose on the Investigative Project for Terrorism, the “anti-jihad” organization run by Steve Emerson. According to the paper’s investigation, Emerson’s group has received funding from various charitable foundations on the pretense that it is a nonprofit — while passing funds to another of Emerson’s groups, the for-profit SAE Productions. In 2008 alone, SAE Productions — whose only listed staff is Emerson himself — received $3.39 million from the nonprofit parent company. It is not yet clear what legal ramifications might follow from these revelations.

Emerson’s investigations into Muslim radicalism in the U.S. have made him a darling of hardline critics of Islam like Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Andy McCarthy, despite critics’ charges that he peddles an overly alarmist line that verges on Islamophobia. (Emerson achieved some notoriety in 1995 for suggesting, in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, that the attack was the work of Muslim radicals.) It will be interesting to see whether these apparent improprieties cause Emerson’s admirers to back away from him.

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Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.