A Former FBI Agent Was Caught On Undercover Video Teaching False Muslim Conspiracy Theories To Police Officers

An ex-FBI agent and anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and his associate conducted a publicly funded counterterrorism training session with Arizona law enforcement officers last year, telling the audience that all mosques are partly “military outposts” and that former president Barack Obama possibly committed “treason” for speaking with a US-based Muslim organization, among other unfounded statements.

John Guandolo has a long, documented history of making disparaging statements and broad generalizations about Muslim Americans. He started his organization, Understanding the Threat, and traveled the country to train state and local law enforcement officials after he resigned from the FBI in 2008 after accusations of alleged inappropriate conduct.

But the precise statements made during the sessions have been largely unknown, until now.

Undercover footage of Guandolo’s remarks were provided to BuzzFeed News by Al Jazeera, as part of its research for its recently aired documentary, Islamophobia Inc.

Al Jazeera’s footage shows that Guandolo and his group’s then-vice president, Chris Gaubatz, promoted false conspiracy theories to police officers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials during the Arizona training. The false conspiracy theories have been spread by far-right anti-Muslim groups for years and sometimes seep into common discourse.

The training sessions shown in the Al Jazeera documentary revealed that Guandolo and his associates claimed Muslim student associations around the country recruit people for “jihad”; explained Islamic, or Sharia, law by showing videos of executions and stonings; and claimed that over 50% of mosques “advocated the use of violence through the use of Sharia.”

But unaired footage reviewed by BuzzFeed News revealed additional claims, including comments that all mosques are partly military outposts, that Obama had committed treason for speaking to a Muslim organization, and that Middle Eastern study programs at US universities are funded by “Global Jihad.” Guandolo also questioned if systemic racism toward African Americans exists.

Guandolo has strong ties with well-funded anti-Muslim groups like the Center for Security Policy and ACT for America — once fringe elements of the extreme conservative movement that have recently risen to prominence in the Trump era. These groups have alleged for years that Muslim Americans are subverting US laws through the practice of Sharia and that it would replace or supersede the laws of the land — a baseless conspiracy theory.

Sharia — often used as a fear-inducing term associated with anti-Western beliefs — is a religious code of conduct, similar to those adhered to in other Abrahamic religions.

During the three-day training session hosted by Arizona Police Association in Mesa in May 2017, Gaubatz told the audience to “think of a mosque as a mixture of an embassy in the sense that that is land that is considered to be Islamic land.”

“A military outpost, an Islamic university or school and a house of prayer all wrapped into one. That’s what a mosque is. Any questions on that?” Gaubatz said at the session, which was paid for by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. A total of $28,000 obtained from federal RICO cases was used to pay for two different three-day training sessions in Arizona.

Gaubatz didn’t return a request for comment.

In a written response to BuzzFeed News, Guandolo claimed that “Mohammad used the mosque as the center of the government and community to adjudicate sharia, hold community events, store food/weapons, house and train jihadis, plan battles, and was the place from which battles were launched.” He also said mosques in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the US and Europe, were used to store weapons and “house jihadis.” He also incorrectly cited the details of a federal case — of a mosque the FBI raided in Detroit in 2009 — that he claimed proved his point.

At another point in the training sessions, Guandolo played Obama’s 116-second video message to Islamic Society of North America for its 50th anniversary.

“Can anybody say treason here?” Guandolo said after the clip.

“That’s the President of the United States openly, in a White House produced video supporting the largest Muslim Brotherhood organization that the DOJ said funds Hamas, a designated terrorist organization,” Guandolo continued. “Maybe treason’s the wrong word, maybe a material support [for terrorism] law? Aiding and abetting? Somebody? Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.”

Several anti-Muslim conspiracy theories involve the belief that the Muslim Brotherhood — the oldest political Sunni Islamist group that began in Egypt and has since spread to many Arab nations — is actually infiltrating every aspect of Muslim American society with nefarious intentions. There were unfounded allegations that Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, was a member, for example.

Guandolo later said — a claim he has made in the past — that the only two Muslim members of Congress, Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, had deep connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. Guandolo said that because Ellison and Carson spoke at or attended events with members of Muslim American organizations like CAIR or Islamic Society of North America, it was as evidence of a connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“He is a snake oil salesman, this stuff is toxic,” said Ellison said of Guandolo in the Al Jazeera documentary. “He’s a poison salesman. You don’t want a law enforcement community infected with these hateful ideas because they do have the power to deploy deadly force.”

In his written response to BuzzFeed News, Guandolo said Obama had “provided hundreds of millions of dollars (at a minimum) to the nation state of Iran which is a state sponsor of terror in violation of U.S. law” and as such, fulfilled “the statutory requirements to indict for sedition and treason.”

For full story visit: https://www.buzzfeed.com/talalansari/muslim-conspiracy-john-guandolo-former-fbi-agent-police?utm_term=.ay4091G56#.gw2xGJm2Z

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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