John Guandolo appears to be at it again.
On June 6-9, the disgraced former FBI agent and notorious anti-Muslim activist is scheduled to hold a training designed for law enforcement officials in Phoenix, Arizona.
The event, titled “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network,” is being sponsored by Guandolo’s “counter-terrorism” consulting outfit, Understanding the Threat, and is being advertised on his website.
No specific location is listed for the training.
This is at least the second time this year Guandolo will be visiting Arizona to work with law enforcement. In a tweet on March 24, 2016, he wrote, “Last week in AZ UTT briefed law enforcement that Brussels is most dangerous city in Europe. Know the threat!”
Guandolo – via Understanding the Threat – further advertised these trainings in an email to supporters, stating, “UTT will be conducting its 3-Day ‘Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network’ program in Tucson, AZ March 14-16 and in Phoenix, AZ March 22-23. Anyone having law enforcement and prosecutorial responsibilities, military, national guard, and first responders are encouraged to attend.”
Now it seems the anti-Muslim activist will be returning to Phoenix in early June.
So what makes Guandolo so unfit to train officers?
Since leaving the FBI in 2008 amid controversy around his relationship with a “star witness,” he has turned to a full-time career as “counter-terrorism” consultant and trainer. In order to lend a sense of credibility to the trainings, Guandolo touts his FBI credentials. However in this role, he merely peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. He travels the country giving lectures on the threat he says Muslims pose to civilians and law enforcement alike.
Some of the conspiracies propagated by Guandolo include him falsely accusing the CIA director John Brennan of being a secret Muslim convert. He also continues to claim Muslims – specifically the Muslim Brotherhood – are actively working to infiltrate and overthrow the United States government from within, a tactic he refers to as “civilization jihad.”
In a 2011 training session, Guandolo further showed his personal bias when he said that Muslims in America “don’t have a First Amendment right to do anything.” This was in reference to the Murfreesboro mosque controversy when anti-Muslim activists sought to prohibit residents from building an Islamic center in the Tennessee town.
Guandolo also keeps company with other notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists such as Frank Gaffney, who heads the far-right think tank Center for Security Policy. Gaffney and Guandolo express similar paranoia about Muslims in the United States. During an event in March 2015 hosted by Gaffney’s organization, Guandolo claimed the sole purpose of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) is to “recruit jihadis.” He is also a co-author of “Shariah: The Threat to America,” a dubious report published by the Center for Security Policy which claims Muslims are actively working to “penetrate” various state and cultural institutions in order to impose Shariah law.
John Guandolo’s anti-Muslim law enforcement training track record
In 2014, Guandolo made another appearance in Arizona to train law enforcement at the invitation of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. However, several police departments withdrew from the event after concerns were raised by local civil rights groups and community members.
Several of Guandolo’s other law enforcement trainings over the years have also been rightly scrutinized and called into question. In 2013, The Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy, after receiving tips from national civil rights organizations, announced it would withdraw accreditation for a three-day training with Guandolo scheduled in Culpepper County, Virginia, and hosted by Sheriff Scott Jenkins.
More recently in August 2015, a local detective was dispatched to another one of Guandolo’s trainings in Colorado to identify any officers in attendance.
Despite criticism, Guandolo continues to promote himself as a legitimate counter-terrorism expert and seeks to influence law enforcement officials. In a 2014 radio interview with Gaffney, Guandolo said state and local law enforcement officials, specifically sheriffs, should be the primary focus to warn about the alleged threat Muslims pose to society.
“I always focus on the sheriffs because the sheriffs are the most powerful law enforcement officer in the country,” he told Gaffney. “Get them to understand this … I believe that it’s at the local level that this has to be handled.”