Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Transcripts of Fox News Interviews With Steven Emerson:

1. Fox News The O'Reilly Factor, 5/16/05
2. Fox News Dayside w/ Linda Vester, 5/17/05

May 16, 2005

BILL O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight, the trial of accused terrorist helper Sami Al-Arian began today in Tampa. He's charged with a variety of federal offenses. And you may remember "The Factor's" investigation of him in 2001, where we spotlighted his fund-raising for killers.

There is also an interesting twist to the story. Al-Arian may have been helped by The St. Petersburg Times newspaper. That's the same newspaper we believe is in the tank for Brad King, the prosecutor who will not charge three adults who may have helped the killer of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.

Joining us now from Washington is terrorism expert Steve Emerson, who was investigating Al-Arian very early and ran up against The St. Petersburg Times.

You know, you were the first one, I think, to pinpoint that Al-Arian was helping terrorist groups, Islamic jihad primarily, kill people, by raising money and propaganda efforts. And every turn, St. Petersburg Times contradicted you and helped Al-Arian, correct?

STEVEN EMERSON, INVESTIGATED SAMI AL-ARIAN'S TIES WITH TERROR GROUPS: No, not only did they help Al-Arian, they helped his brother-in-law. And they consistently downplayed, denigrated, and actually tried to neutralize the government's case, I think, Bill, by a pattern of such overwhelming intellectual dishonesty that it really, I think, now requires some type of internal investigation.

Let me add one thing, however. In a quote that I was quoted in this morning's New York Sun paper, I should have added one thing. There was one reporter at The St. Petersburg Times who tried and successfully was able to turn around the reporting for the time that she was there. Mary Jacoby.

But she was beaten back. And ultimately the reporting reverted back to its same intellectual dishonesty.

O'REILLY: Now what is the problem with this paper? They're sympathetic to Al-Arian, who I believe will be convicted of terrible crimes and may serve life in prison. They're sympathetic to the three people who enabled this terrible killer to, you know, snuff out the life of a 9-year- old girl.

Is it ideology there? Is it incompetence? What's going on at The St. Petersburg Times?

EMERSON: Well, I think that in the case at least of misreporting the Al-Arian Islamic jihad episode for years, it was definitely an aversion to facts and an unwillingness to report what really -- in the evidence that was coming out from the courts and what was available in the public record.

Look, when the reporters refer to five radical Islamic conferences where the top terrorists in the world are attending, and they referred to them as "political conferences for simple discussions of politics and legitimate topics" were basically exchanged, you know something is wrong because the record shows that these were terrorist conferences.

I think that they were co-opted. That's the term used by the FBI in their internal memo in 1996. Ideologically, I think they fell in love with the "victims" to the point that one of the reporters actually referred to the suspects in the Islamic jihad case in the same way that the Jews were the victims of the Holocaust. What an obscene comparison.

O'REILLY: Yes. I mean, there's something very wrong with that newspaper. And as you mentioned, the FBI did actually discuss that the newspaper's support was very questionable -- very questionable.

Now this was before 9/11. Do you think they have changed their tune? I don't think so because they attacked me when I investigated Al-Arian. And -- but maybe they've changed their tune toward terrorism. Have they?

EMERSON: Well, there was just a piece the other day called "Growing Up Al-Arian." And it was these -- a tear-jerker piece focused on Al- Arian's family.

And the bottom line was that he was made to be this poor victim. And his family was suffering because here's this father, who is in isolated jail serving, you know, a -- at least waiting to be tried, a trial starting today.

They made him to be such a victim, not in just this one article, but since 1995. The question is why.

O'REILLY: Yes, that's...

EMERSON: And I don't really have a full answer to that.

O'REILLY: Well, we're trying to get at this guy. Paul Tash is the publisher. He doesn't respond to direct questions.

We know that paper is very far left, The St. Petersburg Times. Historically it has been that way. It looks like they're anti-Israel. Anything that I say, they're against.

I think that's what's going on there, but I'm not sure.

Real quick, do you think Al-Arian's going to get convicted? Jury selection began today. Do you think he's toast?

EMERSON: I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming. And despite his -- the efforts of his defenders, Bill, I don't think they're going to succeed. The wire taps are absolutely incontrovertible.

O'REILLY: Right.

EMERSON: The wire transfers are amazing. This guy was involved directly as...

O'REILLY: They got him.

EMERSON: ...the head of the network in the United States.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Emerson, thanks as always. One footnote. As we said, the head guy at the St. Pete Times, Paul Tash, issued a statement denying any wrongdoing by his newspaper, but in my opinion, there is something very, very wrong there.

May 17, 2005
Dayside with Linda Vester

MIKE JERRICK (substitute host): Have the arrests of several terrorists in Pakistan reported to be top Al-Qaeda leaders and aides to Osama bin Laden crushed the terrorist network? Steve Emerson is a terrorist analyst and Executive Director of The Investigative Project. And Steve, you know where this report is coming from. It's the Pakistani's Interior Minister saying, 'Oh my gosh, we got a couple of top guys in Al-Qaeda that we've kind of broken this network, especially in Pakistan', do you believe it?

STEVEN EMERSON: Usually these types of reports come when there's an appropriations bill for foreign aid.

JERRICK: There you go.

EMERSON: The bottom line is there's no way you could declare this type of victory, it's too premature. This is a war that is not going to be won this year, or next year or in the next 10 years. And the fact of the matter is bin Laden still remains at large and so does Ayman Al-Zawahiri as well as five other members of the top 20 leaders of the Al-Qaeda network.

JERRICK: So, what was your opinion when you heard of the two guys, Al-Yemini and Al-Libbi? Are they really that high up on Al-Qaeda's list?

EMERSON: Remember that there are people coming up on the list who are basically being forced up as the people ahead of them are being taken out or they're being arrested. So people who were number 15, or number 20, or number 25, are suddenly becoming number five. Reality is that these are victories, there is no doubt about that. And the victories have greater resonance and they may still -- if they can pursue the active leads and roll up others, and that clearly was the result of the arrest last year of Khan in Pakistan when they looked at his computer. The only question whether they are going to get any closer to bin Laden. They were saying within the Muslim world, and are basically given safe haven or are not really scrutinized by the host regimes despite what those regimes are saying in terms of cracking down on the Islamic fighters. Saudi Arabia clearly would rather have these guys fighting against the Americans in Iraq then launching attacks on their own soil.

JERRICK: You got to weigh in on this "Newsweek" article. Islamic extremists looking for any reason to demonstrate and burn the American flag. How important do you think this story is, I mean it's getting so much coverage?

EMERSON: Look I'm going to play the anti-conventional wisdom here. I don't think the problem is "Newsweek," I think the problem is the militant Islamic conspiratorial culture that is pervasive that believes anything and anything said anytime about the evil intent of the Crusaders or the Americans or Christian world or Jews. And The fact remains as a friend of mine, Andy McCarthy wrote in the National Review Online today in a brilliant article, the fact remains that is this issue crystallizes a major problem we face: a fanatical culture that is unfortunately pervasive and exists beyond just Afghanistan or Pakistan that we have not come to terms with, and suddenly we believe somehow that this is a legitimate reaction to a report. If that report, as you know, was true, what would we be saying? That it wasn't justified? The fact remains that these types of incidents show that there's a conspiratorial fanatical culture that we have not yet acknowledged the existence of.

JERRICK: And so the President says, 'Newsweek you need to come out with a very aggressive campaign to rectify this problem', what could be done to possibly rectify the damage?

EMERSON: I'm sorry, but that's absolutely, you know, illogical. The reality is that nothing "Newsweek" does or even the United States does -- the whole PR campaign at the State Department, I would rather them take that money and put it into something in the United States. Nothing is going to convince the vast majority of people in that part of the world if they get all their information from al-Jazeera, from the Islamic radical schools, from their own leaders, from their own web sites that constantly re-enforce the notion that the West is out to get them. That is what bin Laden has been saying for 15 years and they are getting variants of that message. Nothing that "Newsweek" does or the U.S. Government does is going to change that. And we have to deal with that and we have to understand this is an implacable enemy.

JERRICK: Good to see you again.

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