In December, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) became the first congressman to travel to Mecca on the Hajj, the religious pilgrimage Muslims are expected to fulfill at least once in the course of their lives. “It was a personal trip, a pilgrimage,” Ellison’s spokesman said.
Yesterday, FoxNews.com published a scurrilous article insisting that Ellison is “coming under fire” for the trip from “critics” who allege the trip was paid for by the Muslim American Society (MAS). The “critics” Fox News quotes? Just one: Muslim-basher Steven Emerson — who told Fox that MAS is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and compared the group to Neo-Nazis:
But Ellison, the only Muslim in Congress, is coming under fire for his ties to MAS, which one terrorism expert called “the Muslim equivalent of the neo-Nazi party.”
“It is the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.,” said Steven Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The agenda of the MAS is to … impose Islamic law in the U.S., to undermine U.S. counterterrorism policy.” [...]
Emerson said Ellison’s embrace of MAS was an attempt to legitimize the group, which he called out of the mainstream. “It’s very troubling that he is trying to project an image of moderation, but he is tied to these radical groups,” Emerson told FOXNews.com.
As the Minnesota Independent pointed out, MAS “has earned the respect of the Minnesota Council of Churches, the St. Paul Police Department and former Vice President Walter Mondale.” But Emerson’s “priority is not so much news as it is an unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) noted in a report on Emerson. (It also reminded readers of “Emerson’s most notorious gaffe”: claiming the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing showed “a Middle Eastern trait” because it “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.”)
Fox News — which has expelled untold energy fearmongering on Ellison’s religion — has hosted Emerson multiple times in the last year. Host E.D. Hill has called him “one of the best people” working on terrorism issues and said his latest book “is one of the best books you can read to just get a great perspective on the issues we’re facing.”
An example of that “perspective,” last January, Emerson appeared on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes to accuse an aide to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England of being “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent.” He posited a conspiracy theory that there was a plot within the Pentagon to help the Muslim Brotherhood take over the United States and impose an Islamic caliphate:
COLMES: When you say Islamic penetration, are you talking about just one person, or are you saying there’s widespread penetration, people who want jihad against the United States working — literally working in the Pentagon.
EMERSON: Yes. We know that from the trials of former military members who were brought up on charges — carrying out jihad. [...]
COLMES: And they want to destroy the United States, these people working internally. It was like a fifth column in there.
EMERSON: You got it.
Fox is virtually the only news organization still willing to host Emerson. When FAIR asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh “how Emerson is perceived by fellow journalists,” Hersh replied definitively, “He’s poison.”
In 2001, the Washington Post reported, “People invited to the Washington-area office of terrorism expert Steven Emerson say he sets one condition: They must swear never to reveal its location. Some visitors have been blindfolded as they’re driven to his headquarters, where the masks are removed to reveal a warren of rooms piled high with dossiers, transcripts and videotapes, they say. The people who work there call it ‘the bat cave.’”