An former FBI agent who now trains local law enforcement agents said over the weekend that the Muslim Student Association only serves to “recruit jihadis.” On March 14, John Guandolo spoke at the “South Carolina National Security Action Summit” alongside other anti-Muslim and nativist figures as well as Sen. Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, two potential 2016 presidential candidates.
The former FBI agent’s reckless accusations are part of a broader trend of targeting Muslim students and disrupting campus climates
Guandolo spoke about a network of groups he claims are working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. He also claims they are working to infiltrate the country from within to usher in an Islamic takeover.
One of the groups Guandolo focused on during his speech was the MSA, accusing the group of existing solely as a terrorist recruiting arm.
“So what does that look like?” Guandolo asked the crowd, speaking of the alleged front groups. “Well, the MSAs…we have over 630 MSAs on every major college campus in America whose purpose is to recruit jihadis and spread the disinformation.”
Guandolo also deemed the MSA to be “the very first national Islamic organization in America” that was “created by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Of course, such accusations are both reckless and dangerous, and realistically put the safety of Muslim students at risk. Broadly vilifying Muslims as terrorists contributes to an anti-Muslim atmosphere that can contribute to horrifying acts of violence.
Unfortunately, Guandolo’s targeting of the MSA and Muslim students appears to be part of a growing trend within the organized Islamophobia movement. In 2013, he worked with the anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America to release an online “counter-terrorism” tool for law enforcement called “The Thin Blue Line Project.” The website, available to anyone who applied for access, included a “Radicalization Locator Map” which identified all the MSA chapters across the U.S.
The website also publicized the home addresses of prominent Muslim leaders, endangering them and their families.
ACT!, however, didn’t stop there. Last year, the group attracted high school and college students to its national conference in Washington, D.C. in hopes of encouraging them to start their own ACT! chapter on their respective campuses to provide a “counterweight” to the MSA.
Aside from ACT!, one of the most notable organizations with a history of taking its anti-Muslim message to college campuses has been the David Horowitz Freedom Center. In 2007 and 2008, the group organized the problematic “Islamo-Facism Awareness Week” on campuses across the country. Horowitz himself has a well-documented track record of targeting Muslim students with incendiary rhetoric.
After resigning in disgrace from the FBI, Guandolo has made a career out of pushing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. He travels around the country giving counter-terrorism trainings for both law enforcement and civilians alike. His FBI background and paranoia about the Muslim Brotherhood has made him a favorite among others in the Islamophobia movement such as fellow fear monger Frank Gaffney, whose organization “Secure Freedom” co-sponsored the South Carolina event.
Guandolo’s labeling of the MSA as a “jihadi” recruiting group only adds to his long list of anti-Muslim activity and rhetoric. It further confirms that he has no business training anybody, especially law enforcement officials.