For the second time this year, the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) will feature an anti-Muslim training seminar at one of its national conferences.
Understanding the Threat (UTT), the anti-Muslim consulting firm run by disgraced former FBI agent and anti-Muslim figure John Guandolo, has been invited by the NSA to give a presentation at its 2017 Annual Educational & Technology Expo on June 23 – June 28 in Reno, Nevada.
UTT’s course will take place on Wednesday, June 28 and is slated to focus on “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network in Your Home Town.” UTT gave a similar presentation at the NSA’s winter conference earlier this year.
Guandolo will be accompanied by Chris Gaubatz, who co-runs UTT. Both individuals are known for promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Guandolo has previously argued that mosques in America “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.” In a recent interview, he sympathized with the perpetrator who plowed a van into Muslim worshipers outside a mosque in London during a recent terrorist attack. Guandolo said the “people in London elect[ed] a jihadi, a suit-wearing jihadi, Sadiq Khan, as their mayor, so people who are still sane there, are having to make very difficult decisions.”
Guandolo is also gripped by the outrageous conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is supposedly infiltrating the country. He claims the group is waging so-called “civilization jihad” to “destroy America, overthrow it’s [sic] government and replace it with an Islamic state under sharia.”
It appears UTT’s paranoid and bigoted conspiracy theories have influenced at least some of the law enforcement officers who have attended its seminars. A May episode of UTT’s radio show featured testimonies from officers who attended a recent training in Mesa, Arizona. One officer who attended the training said it “opened” his “eyes towards the Islamic movement in the United States” which he called a “threat.” He added: “I need to educate myself further on Islam.” That being Guandolo’s bigoted and conspiracy-minded interpretation of the religion.
Another officer embraced UTT’s assertions about the Muslim Brotherhood. “It was unreal to me how established that they showed how the Muslim Brotherhood’s gotten to be in our federal government,” said the officer who claimed to have 13 years of law enforcement experience.
UTT actively travels the country providing training seminars to law enforcement as detailed in a recent report published by the Center for New Community, Islamophobia Academy. Guandolo and Gaubatz’s presence at the upcoming NSA expo represents a greater problematic trend in the country where individuals with anti-Muslim biases are being selected by state and local law enforcement agencies to provide counter-terrorism courses. One reason UTT keeps getting booked by law enforcement agencies is because the outfit has been endorsed by the NSA’s president.
Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana is the president of the NSA and a strident supporter of Guandolo’s and his firm.
He has written a letter officially endorsing UTT’s anti-Muslim training courses where he writes: “We want to encourage you as a leader in the law enforcement community to host a training from UTT.” In 2016, Champagne’s office and the Louisiana Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration co-hosted Guandolo for a training.
UTT is not the only group associated with bigotry the NSA has embraced. The anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was an exhibitor at the NSA’s 2017 winter conference. Champagne also appeared in a television advertisement produced by FAIR in March. In it, he thanks Trump for “agreeing to stop illegal immigration and restore the rule of law.”
The NSA has been supportive of Trump’s nativist policies and met with him in the White House in February.