Skip to main content

Private Sector Snoops Caught Spying on Muslim Activists in the United States

Bombshell emails reveal IPT infiltrated CAIR and forwarded the intel to Israel
A girl holds a sign during the annual Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan.

A girl holds a sign during the annual Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit watchdog founded in 1995 by former journalist Steven Emerson. IPT stands alongside groups like Jihad Watch and the David Horowitz Freedom Center as part of what the Center for American Progress has termed “America’s Islamophobia infrastructure.” This is a “core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations [who] manufacture and exaggerate threats of ‘creeping Sharia,’ Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.” The IPT is a right-wing political operation with the slightest veneer of impartiality.

Beginning in the Clinton administration, IPT “regularly provided the White House with a stream of information about possible Al Qaeda activity inside the United States,” Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball reported in Newsweek in 2004. Some of this came from open source methods such as the nascent internet, while other information came from “undercover researchers [who] attend and secretly record meetings of Islamic groups in the United States.”

More recently, evidence emerged that IPT has infiltrated the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In December 2021, the Muslim civil rights group fired its Ohio chapter director, Romin Iqbal, when it was discovered he was acting as a mole for IPT. Bombshell emails obtained by CAIR via an anonymous whistleblower seem to illustrate IPT’s espionage and even appear to implicate Israeli officials.

IPT “has spent over $100,000 and over ten years infiltrating and spying upon American Muslim organizations including Mosques, civil rights groups, and individual leaders,” CAIR deputy director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a presentation to the Transcending the Israel Lobby at Home and Abroad conference in Washington, D.C. on March 4th, 2022.

“We also learned from this whistleblower,” he continued, “that IPT is not only targeting CAIR. They were targeting the broader Muslim community. They were targeting Mosques. They were targeting interfaith organizations. They were targeting Muslim leaders. And they were using paid spies to do it.”

The emails indicate that special attention was paid to any information relating to meetings between CAIR members and government officials. A fair degree of coordination also appears to have been involved, with Emerson telling his employees to prepare for an “avalanche of incoming tapes” recorded covertly by Iqbal. Additionally, emails show that Iqbal shared with IPT internal communications from CAIR marked “CONFIDENTIAL: PLEASE DO NOT DISCLOSE.”

Romin Iqbal shares CAIR communications marked ”CONFIDENTIAL: PLEASE DONT DISCLOSE” with IPT’s Steve Emerson

Romin Iqbal shares CAIR communications marked ”CONFIDENTIAL: PLEASE DONT DISCLOSE” with IPT’s Steve Emerson

IPT’s Steve Emerson notifies his employees that mole Romin Iqbal will be providing them with an “avalanche of incoming tapes” from a CAIR gathering

IPT’s Steve Emerson notifies his employees that mole Romin Iqbal will be providing them with an “avalanche of incoming tapes” from a CAIR gathering

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

Additionally, IPT seems to be collaborating with the Israeli government.

According to Mitchell, IPT was “allegedly in touch with multiple Israeli intelligence officials.”

“What this indicated to us is that not only was Mr. Emerson targeting American Muslims, spreading Islamophobia,” Mitchell says. “He was, at the same time, actively collaborating with and working with a foreign government.”

In one email, a figure identifying themselves as “Ido Mizrahi” contacts Emerson from an account at the Israeli Prime Minister’s office in April 2014. Mizrahi requests information that could connect the university-based activist group Students for Justice in Palestine to Hamas. Additionally, Mizrahi signs off as Senior Intelligence Coordinator for Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Ido Mizrahi requests information from IPT on possible ties between activist group Student for Justice in Palestine and Hamas

Ido Mizrahi requests information from IPT on possible ties between activist group Student for Justice in Palestine and Hamas

According to Delinda Hanley, Executive Director and News Editor at Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, this revelation should be seen as the most important part of Mitchell’s presentation.

“The Investigative Project on Terrorism is supposed to be a non-profit,” Hanley told Failed State Update. Emerson “has to register [as a foreign agent] if he wants to feed information to a foreign government.”

“He can’t be doing that without saying that he is a lobbyist for a foreign government,” she reiterated. “That’s just illegal.”

Check out Edward Ahmed Mitchell's presentation below.