John Guandolo, the disgraced FBI former agent known for his anti-Muslim activism, spoke at a national security event on Capitol Hill Wednesday that reportedly featured members of Congress.
Guandolo, who heads the consulting group Understanding the Threat (UTT), was one of five speakers at a “national security discussion,” according to a Facebook post by UTT. Several of Guandolo’s anti-Muslim colleagues including Frank Gaffney, Admiral “Ace” Lyons, and Lt. Gen. Jerry G. Boykin also spoke. At the moment, it remains unclear how many members of Congress attended or who sponsored the event. Guandolo’s social media output indicates that at least two anti-Muslim Congressmen, Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), may have been involved. Regardless, Guandolo did not temper his anti-Muslim rhetoric and live-streamed it via Periscope.
UTT’s John Guandolo is on Capitol Hill right now speaking on National Security with members of Congress & others incl Adm Ace Lyons. pic.twitter.com/WfeBmwck6x
— UTT (@UTT_USA) November 15, 2017
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Guandolo told audience members that Muslim houses of worship in the U.S. serve as “military base[s]” and should not be “afforded the same legal rights” as churches. At another point during his remarks, he stated: “The threat is Islam. The threat has always been Islam.”
Frank Gaffney, also known for anti-Muslim rhetoric, appeared to have served as moderator for the event. While introducing Guandolo, Gaffney made light of his extreme rhetoric.
“[Guandolo] has achieved a level of notoriety that makes me look like I’ve been at a church social,” Gaffney quipped.
While introducing Guandolo, Gaffney also suggested Rep. Scott Perry was in attendance and shared remarks earlier in the event. In a November 15 tweet from Guandolo’s personal Twitter account referencing the national security discussion, he notes receiving praise from Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). Both Perry and Franks have ties to Gaffney and other anti-Muslim groups like ACT for America.
Guandolo claimed Franks lauded him for being “exactly right on the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Guandolo is known for stoking utterly baseless conspiracy theories that the Muslim Brotherhood, a foreign political entity, has infiltrated the U.S. government and is working to overthrow it from within. During his remarks on Capitol Hill, he told attendees the Muslim Brotherhood is “literally entering what they consider their final stage here in the United States.” He added White House officials are not taking this seriously.
“If these were doctors and lawyers we’d put them in jail for criminal negligence.”
Guandolo and Understanding the Threat regularly focus their efforts at the state level, offering bigoted training seminars to local law enforcement and civilians alike. However, UTT lands an audience on Capitol Hill from time to time. In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) invited Chris Gaubatz, UTT’s vice-president, to testify at a congressional hearing titled “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.” During his remarks Gaubatz accused the only two Muslim members of Congress of being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Update: UTT later confirmed Guandolo’s appearance on Capitol Hill in a November 16 email to supporters. The email notes Guandolo briefed attendees on the alleged “Islamic threat and what must be done to defeat it.”
The November 15 Hill briefing was followed by the Center for Security Policy’s annual “Keeper of the Flame” award dinner and ceremony in Washington, D.C. This year’s “Keeper of the Flame” recipient was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a staunch legislative ally of the organized anti-Muslim movement.
Guandolo was presented with CSP’s “Patriot Award” during the event. Another recipient of the award was voter suppression advocate Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote. In 2013, Mother Jones revealed Engelbrecht and Frank Gaffney are part of a secret conservative strategy group known as Groundswell. U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Texas State Sen. Bob Hall were also among those honored by CSP during the ceremony.