Anti-Muslim activist John Guandolo gave a “training” to police officers and sheriff’s deputies in San Angelo, Texas on May 4 during which he portrayed ISIS as reflective of Islam as a whole. The Texas Observer, which obtained audio recording of the event, also reported that Guandolo said Texas should consider requiring elected officials to profess Christian beliefs.
Excerpts from the Texas Observer’s Gus Bova:
Guandolo attempted to paint a picture of Islam as a unified, totalitarian system unlike other religions. “There’s nothing radical, extreme, orthodox or fundamentalist about the Islamic State,” he said, repeatedly claiming that al-Qaida and ISIS accurately represent the entire religion. Guandolo argued that many seemingly moderate Muslims will convert into militants when ordered, and that Muslim leaders regularly mislead law enforcement in order to conceal their mission of overthrowing the West.
“If your sole source for understanding Islam is an imam and you’re in law enforcement … that’s unprofessional, because his doctrine commands him to lie to you,” Guandolo said during the training. “If they’re a leader in the Islamic community, they’re commanded to lie to you.”
The Observer reported that Guandolo repeatedly promoted the longer courses offered by his company. “But when he wasn’t coming across as a hustler, he could be downright scary,” Bova wrote. “At one point, he even tried to make it easier for attendees to justify having killed a Muslim — at least in some cases.”
Guandolo’s deeply flawed understanding of the Constitution extends to separation of church and state, reflected in Christian nationalist comments he made during his training. More from the Observer:
Guandolo also made clear that he doesn’t oppose theocracy; he’s just against Islam. “The founders understood that our leaders should be Christians,” he said during a lengthy digression in which he also argued that there should be no separation of church and state, and that Texas and other states should consider requiring elected officials to profess Christian beliefs.
In his final cri de coeur for combating Islam, Guandolo called upon the crowd’s Lone Star pride. “This is the battle line, and if you’re too tired or exhausted or just don’t want to deal with it, that’s fine. All I’d ask is please don’t get in the way of the rest of us,” he said. “This is Texas, for God’s sake. If we can’t win here, this nation is in real trouble.”
After a complaint by Muslim Advocates, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other activists, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement denied officers credit for attending the training, criticizing the broad characterization of American Muslims and saying it “provided no training value for law enforcement officers.”
Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent who has found a career as a right-wing activist and anti-Muslim speaker, whose organization Understanding the Threat is characterized by the SPLC as an anti-Muslim hate group. In March, Guandolo tweeted a photo labeling a Southwest Airlines employee a “jihadi” based on the man’s dark skin and beard, and when criticized, he defended his actions, saying, “When I am at an airport and see a clearly Sharia-adherent Muslim working with a TSA uniform on or [for] foreign airlines or sitting at a security desk in full hijab or a complete burka, I will take a picture and usually tweet it out.”
A few more facts about Guandolo that should be considered by any local law enforcement officers considering a pitch for an “Understanding the Threat” training:
In April he told radio host Sandy Rios that if he were king, he would move to arrest and execute for sedition or treason many of “the people supporting the Islamic movement and the Marxist movement, Democratic leadership at the national level, Republican leadership at the national level.”
Earlier this year, he called for the execution of the people behind Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and urged Trump to purge every government official appointed by President Obama, dismiss all the generals in the military, and investigate members of Congress for sedition and treason. He feels the same about the media, saying hostile coverage of Trump is part of a conspiracy to overthrow the government.