Steven Emerson speaks with katie Couric about his book American Jihad, the Terrorists Living Among Us.
I was still working for CNN in 1993 when the first World Trade Center bombing occurred on February 26th. As the story unfolded it became obvious that the whole plot had been hatched among small terror cells in this country. I had heard an excess of explosive rhetoric in Oklahoma City and other places where I had investigated militant organizations. I was sure there must be some connection.
But I was faced with a difficult moral dilemma. I hadn’t started investigating anyone to any great degree. All I had at that point was a collection of books and pamphlets and promotional material by which these groups advertised themselves to a very select audience. I didn’t know whether it was all rhetoric or whether there was really substance to all this. I had a few videos showing that Hamas had definitely established itself in this country, but that was about it. Would I be risking my career by following up this story, in what might prove to be a wild goose chase?
I decided to take a proposal to Richard Carlson of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Already I was thinking in terms of a video. I’m a print journalist by background but here was a story that would be much easier to tell as a TV program. The most dramatic material I was collecting was already in video form anyway. The training and recruitment videos, the fiery speeches at mosques and conventions — it would be hard to convey the bloodcurdling nature of this material except by letting it speak for itself.
Carlson liked the idea and passed it up the line. Before long I was passed over to the Public Broadcasting System, the network subsidiary of CPB. I ended up dealing with Bob Coonrod and Ervin Duggan, who was then president of PBS. They were very enthusiastic but couldn’t generate much interest within the bureaucracy of PBS. Finally, Dugin took matters into his own hands and provided me with some research and development money.
And so in 1993 I left CNN to work full-time as an investigator of terrorist networks in the United States. I founded The Investigative Project, which has employed a shifting staff of from two to fifteen people. What we discovered is that, indeed, international terrorist organizations of all sorts had set up shop here in America. They often took advantage of religious, civic, or charitable organizations. - end.
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