Steven Emerseon is the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The New York Times Book Review said Emerson’s 1991 book Terrorist was “marred by factual errors…that betray an unfamiliarity with the Middle East and a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias.”
After terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, Emerson alleged that based on “certain classified information” he was “privy to” he was confident that the bomber was a Saudi national who was at the time in custody. The bombers turned out to be of Chechen descent. The Saudi was cleared of any wrongdoing, but rumors circulated that he may have been deported. This too turned out to be untrue. Questioned about this later, Emerson alleged, “This is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia, you don’t arrest their citizens, you deport them, because [the Obama administration] don’t want them to be embarrassed and that’s their way we appease them.”
Emerson has a history of not getting the facts correct.
Emerson said of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, “This [the bombing] was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.” Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian American, was later convicted for committing the terrorist act.
In 1996, after a plane exploded off the coast of New York, Emerson quickly asserted, “I have no doubt whatsoever, at this point, that it was a bomb that brought down TWA Flight 800 – not a missile, but a bomb…” The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the cause of the tragedy was vapor in a fuel tank, a tragic accident rather than a deliberate bombing.
Emerson’s credibility was further derailed in the late 1990s when Florida Weekly Planet newspaper Senior Editor John Sugg quoted two unnamed Associated Press reporters who said Emerson gave them a document on terrorism supposedly from FBI files: “One reporter thought he’d seen the material before, and in checking found a paper Emerson had supplied earlier containing his own unsupported allegations. The two documents were almost identical, except that Emerson’s authorship was deleted from the one purported to be from the FBI. ‘It was really his work,’ one reporter says. He sold it to us trying to make it look like a really interesting FBI document.'”