Investigative Project on Terrorism

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Investigative Project on Terrorism
Abbreviation IPT
Formation 1995 (Project) / 2006 (Foundation)
Type Think tank
Headquarters Washington, D.C., United States
Executive Director
Steven Emerson

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) is a Washington D.C. based non-profit research group founded in 1995 by Steven Emerson. The organization maintains a large intelligence archive on extremist groups and individuals either actively involved in or suspected of involvement in Islamic terrorism. IPT researches and records suspected terrorist funding activities, and investigates operational structures of extremist groups in the US and around the world, including al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. IPT provided testimony to Congressional committees and subcommittees on international terrorism, and considers itself "a principal source of critical evidence to a wide variety of government offices and law enforcement agencies, as well as the US Congress and numerous public policy forums."

History and mission[edit]

The Investigative Project on Terrorism was founded by Steven Emerson in 1995, shortly after the release of his documentary film, Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America, which first aired in the United States in 1994 on the PBS series Frontline.[1][2] The documentary was faulted for misrepresentation, and Robert Friedman accused Emerson of "creating mass hysteria against American Arabs."[3]

In a television interview after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Emerson incorrectly pointed at Muslim terrorists, suggesting the bombing showed a Middle Eastern trait.[4] Emerson has stated that he was chastened by the experience and learned a lesson.[5] The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, which describes Emerson as a discredited terrorism expert and Islamophobe, also mentioned this error.[6] Christopher Bail, author of Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, postulated that Emerson's doctoring of FBI evidence in his film Terrorists Among Us, his speculation about Muslim involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing and widespread criticism from Muslim American organizations resulted in most major media outlets abandoning IPT until the 2001 September 11 attacks.[7]

IPT maintains a data center which includes archival information relating to the past activities of known Islamic terrorist groups. They also investigate suspected funding activities and networks of Islamic extremists in the US and abroad. IPT obtains information from a variety of sources, including "websites, list-serves, publications, informants, undercover recordings, government records, court documents, and so on". IPT has provided useful evidence to law enforcement and government agencies, and occasionally provides testimonial evidence during special committee hearings of the US Congress.[1][2][8] IPT has been criticized by various proponents of Islam. The liberal think-tank, Center for American Progress (CAP), stated that the IPT was one of ten foundations constituting what it called "the Islamophobia network in America".[9]

In January 2014, former congressman and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, was named the Shillman Senior Fellow for IPT specializing in national security, international relations, global terrorism and cyber security.[10]

Indictments and trial evidence[edit]

According to an article in the Middle East Forum's Middle East Quarterly, "the IPT has access to information and intelligence to which the government is not privy, and has been instrumental in shutting down more than a dozen Islamic charitable terrorist and nonviolent front-groups since 2001."[11]

On December 2001, CBS: 48 Hours - Erin Moriarity interviewed Steven Emerson, Executive Director of IPT, for the CBS television documentary series, 48 Hours. The episode, "Target Terrorism", was broadcast on January 30, 2002. Emerson said that Sami al-Arian was running an organization in the United States that "was one and the same as the Islamic Jihad".[12] In February 2003, Arian was indicted for alleged fundraising and material support activities on behalf of terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). According to the Tampa Bay Times, Arian signed a plea agreement in which he admitted to "conspiring to help people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad" and covering up his knowledge of the PIJ associations by lying to Jim Harper, a St. Petersburg reporter covering Al-Arian in the mid-1990s, and others.[13]

In the 2007 and 2008 Holy Land Foundation Trials - prosecution relied on evidence produced by IPT, one of the three groups responsible for much of the analysis of exhibits and the links from Holy Land Foundation (HLF) to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and the extended MB network.[14] On May 27, 2009, in federal court in Dallas, "U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis sentenced the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five of its leaders following their convictions by a federal jury in November 2008 on charges of providing material support to Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization."[15] As a result of IPT's vast archives on the activities of Hamas front groups in the United States Law enforcement officials commented that IPT had an instrumental role in prosecuting and convicting the Holy Land Foundation, a trial that resulted in sweeping convictions for all defendants in 2008.[11]


The fund-raising arm of the Investigative Project on Terrorism is the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established in 2006 by Steven Emerson. The Foundation is operated for the most part by SAE Productions, a Delaware-based company that was also founded by Emerson in 1994.[1][16] According to an officer of SAE Productions, the arrangement avoids the need for the kind of public disclosure associated with tax-exemption and is necessary for security reasons: "The very nature of our work mandates that we protect the organization and its staff from threats posed by those that are the subject or our research by preserving the confidentiality of our methods."[17]

An article by Bob Smietana in the Nashville Tennessean says that money is transferred from the non-profit foundation to the for-profit production company, SAE.[18][19] In 2008, the non-profit paid US$$3,390,000 to SAE Productions for whats was described as "management services", while Emerson was SAE's sole officer.[18] IPT published a statement in response noting that, "At issue in the Tennessean story is the relationship between the IPT Foundation, a tax-exempt charity, and SAE Productions, a for-profit company run by IPT Executive Director Steven Emerson. The foundation accepts private donations and contracts with SAE to manage operations. The Tennessean article pays only lip service to the legitimate security issues that dictated this structure and that the IRS has reviewed and approved it."[20]

IPT has stated that it "accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental agency or political or religious institutions".[1] In 2002 and 2003, Emerson received a total of $600,000 in grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation, a conservative-leaning policy research foundation.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "About The Investigative Project on Terrorism". IPT. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Ziegler, Andrew, International Jihadists Infiltrating America?, American Diplomacy, January 15, 2008. Accessed April 1, 2014.
  3. ^ Terrorism financing: origination, organization, and prevention. Hearing before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Eighth Congress, first session,. p. Vol 4 p.178. ISBN 0756740304. 
  4. ^ John F. Sugg (January 1, 1999). "Steven Emerson's Crusade". Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  5. ^ "48 Hours: Tracking Terror - Steve Emerson Watches Islamic Terrorist". Cbs News. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Hammer, Julie; Safi, Amid (2013). The Cambridge Companion to American Islam. Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9781107002418. Retrieved 22 January 2015. Islamophobe[s] Steven Emerson (the discredited "terrorism expert" who falsely identified Muslims as being behind the Oklahoma city bombings committed by Timothy McVeigh) 
  7. ^ Bail, Christopher (Dec 21, 2014). Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream. Princeton University Press. p. 31. ISBN 9781400852628. 
  8. ^ Jeffrey H. Norwitz (2009). Pirates, Terrorists, and Warlords: The History, Influence, and Future of Armed Groups Around the World. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-60239-708-8. 
  9. ^ Greg Barrett (2012). The Gospel of Rutba: War, Peace, and the Good Samaritan Story in Iraq. Orbis Books. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-60833-113-0. 
  10. ^ "The Honorable Pete Hoekstra Joins The Investigative Project On Terrorism As The Shillman Senior Fellow". PRNewswire-USNewswire. January 14, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. 
  11. ^ a b "Steven Emerson Combating Radical Islam". Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2010. Retrieved March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Target Terrorism". 
  13. ^ "In his plea deal, what did Sami Al-Arian admit to?". Tampa Bay Times. April 23, 2006. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ Andrew Cochran (November 29, 2007). "Special Public Event: Panel on Holy Land Foundation & Muslim Brotherhood". Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Federal Judge Hands Downs Sentences in Holy Land Foundation Case". DOJ Office of Public Affairs. May 27, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ Nathan Guttman and Larry Cohler-Esses, The Forward, 17 November 2010, Terror Expert Emerson Feels His Own Heat Over Finances
  17. ^ Ray Locker, Managing director, IPT, Letter to The Forward, 24 November 2010, The Investigative Project on Terrorism Responds
  18. ^ a b c Smietana, Bob. "Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear". The Tennessean. 
  19. ^ John Sugg (Jan–Feb 2011). "What people in Nashville now know about Steven Emerson". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: 25ff. (subscription required)
  20. ^ "Note to Readers on Tennessean Story". IPT. October 25, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 

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