Islamic Law Expert Fired for Being a 'Christian Zealot'?

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 11, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY & COLMES" CO-HOST: An Islamist expert at the Pentagon known for his hard stance against radical Islam was recently fired, and now his colleagues want to know why.

Stephen Coughlin was fired after a confrontation with one of the deputy defense secretary's aides, which ended with Coughlin being called, "a Christian zealot with a pen."

The word from the Pentagon is that Coughlin was fired for fiscal reasons, but supporters of his think that there are ulterior motives behind his dismissal.

Joining us now from is terrorism expert Steve Emerson, back with us.

Hi, Steve. Walk us through what happened here, who he is, where his expertise was, and why you think — what really went on here.

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Stephen Coughlin is — has a background in law, international business, and a specialty in academic study of Islamic militant doctrine of jihad.

And what he did was analyze documents, hundreds of thousands of documents that were released during the Hamas tribe, the Holy Land case trial in Texas. He did an analysis of some of those documents — that were not disputed —which showed that there was a Muslim Brotherhood plan, a secret plan, designed to acquire influence in the U.S., undermine U.S. democracy, and to establish a caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood plan was spelled out in a document that was introduced at trial.

Mr. Coughlin wrote a memo spelling out the implications of these documents and the profound nature of what could happen if the United States government decided to start doing dialogue and embracing the very organizations that were intent on undermining U.S. national security.

HANNITY: Steve, was there a point, and this is a point of contention, I know Bill Gertz brought it up in a piece that he put together on this, that he was asked to soften his views on Islamic extremism. In other words, they're saying it's about fiscal — a fiscal reason for the firing.

EMERSON: That's a cover. The J-2, which is intelligence, said I can tell you this openly right now. The J-2, which is the intelligence wing of the joint chiefs, said he was a political embarrassment.

And the reason was because he had offended a top aide to the deputy secretary of defense, Gordon England, whose aide, Hisham Islam (ph), I believe is an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.

HANNITY: Let me get the broader picture here. So you believe that this guy is a foremost expert on the issue of Islamic extremism in the United States, and because he wouldn't soften his views, change his opinions or his rhetoric, he's being fired because there are people that are sympathetic — you're making the case — to radical Islam within our own government? Am I understanding that right?

EMERSON: Radical Islam, the jihadists, Global Civilization of Jihad — that's a quote from the document released during the trial, has emerged under the guise of different organizations that have penetrated the U.S. government.

People don't want to believe it, but it's true...

COLMES: Hey...

EMERSON: ... and even these groups claim they're antiterrorism. They're not. They have an agenda. They're subversive, and — let me just finish. The fact is that he didn't have a hard line. All he did was spell out what the agenda was of these groups, and his particular quote, and I'd just like to...

COLMES: We only have a moment left. We have a FOX News producer at the Pentagon who is reporting that we have spoken with people in the Pentagon who are claiming that the Defense Intelligence Agency — they employ Coughlin through a contract — and it was Rear Admiral David Dorset, Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staffs, who decided not the renew his contract for fiscal purposes. It had nothing to do whatsoever with Islam, the person you're fingering as being responsible for his dismissal.

EMERSON: You want to — you know, they want to have a cover story. That's the cover story. The reality is a lot different. He was called a "Christian extremist", a zealot. He had offended Hesham Islam, Gordon England, who has appeared before radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic Society of North America. We have videotape of this.

COLMES: That may be true, but that's not why he was fired. So you're saying that we're being lied to by the Penatagon?

EMERSON: His contract was not renewed. This is a cover story. The reality is his contract was not renewed because of the Islamic penetration of the Pentagon. And that the sad reality has affected the FBI, the department...

COLMES: When you say Islamic penetration, are you talking about just one person, or are you saying there's widespread penetration, people who want jihad against the United States working — literally working in the Pentagon?

EMERSON: Yes. We know that from the trials of former military members who were brought up on charges — carrying out jihad.

COLMES: How could this happen.

EMERSON: We know they trained in the military, No. 1...

No. 2, the chaplains who serve — the Islamic chaplains who serve — were trained by a known terrorist.

COLMES: And they want to destroy the United States, these people working internally. It was like a fifth column in there.

EMERSON: You've got it. It's definitely an operation in the late 1980s. Trojan Horse from the late 1980's —

COLMES: The government is lying to FOX News about it?

EMERSON: The government lying — I'm shocked, Alan. I mean, suddenly you're a believer in the government.

COLMES: I asked you a question. I don't always believe the government. Absolutely not. The same government told us the true about the...

HANNITY: Thank you very much.

COLMES: Coming up, I'll look at some of the suspense moments. Thank, you, Steve.

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