Nativism Watch

Oklahoma legislator invites anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists to testify


Imagine2050 Staff • Oct 24, 2016

Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett, who has previously called Islam a “cancer in our nation,” has invited anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists John Guandolo and Chris Gaubatz to testify before the Oklahoma State Judiciary Committee on October 25.

Guandolo and Gaubatz will testify during a session labeled: “Study radical Islam, Shariah Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and the radicalization process.”

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Bennett recently proposed a similar study, which was approved by Oklahoma state lawmakers, as Buzzfeed reported. The study would use tax dollars to examine the “current threat posed by radical Islam and the effect that Shariah Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist indoctrination have in the radicalization process in Oklahoma and America.”

In addition to the committee session, Rep. John Bennett will speak alongside Guandolo and Gaubatz at a forum focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday evening. The event, titled “A Conversation about the Muslim Brotherhood in America,” will take place at Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, and will also feature Rev. Paul Blair, according to an advertisement.

Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent turned full-time anti-Muslim conspiracist who now travels the country giving law enforcement and civilian trainings about the alleged threat posed by Muslims. Gaubatz, who was recently hired by Guandolo’s consulting firm Understanding the Threat, is the subject of the controversial book Muslim Mafia.

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Screengrab from UTT email, October 25, 2016

Both Guandolo and Gaubatz argue that the Muslim Brotherhood is actively working to subvert the U.S. government from within, a tactic they refer to as “stealth jihad.” Guandolo’s conspiratorial rantings also target entire Muslim communities in the U.S. He recently warned that Muslims are working in hotels and buying gas stations with the intent of “preparing for a jihad here in the United States.” Some variation of these bigoted conspiracy theories are sure to feature at Tuesday’s events.

Guandolo’s outfit sent around a correspondence advertising both events.

Building on Anti-Muslim Track Record

Guandolo and Gaubatz will certainly find good company with Rep. John Bennett, who has his own history of making anti-Muslim statements. Bennett previously claimed Islam is a threat to “Western civilization” and called it “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.”

Last year, the Oklahoma representative had his staff hand out Bibles and an anti-Muslim questionnaire during a Muslim event at the state capitol. Bennett also issued a press release in support of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s deeply troubling proposal to halt all Muslim immigration into the U.S.

“We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad,” Bennett’s statement read. “We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled.”

This is similarly not the first time Rep. John Bennett has associated with known anti-Muslim figures. In 2013, Bennett, via his informal House Counterterrorism Caucus, sponsored a law enforcement training seminar that featured the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez as well as retired Lt. Gen. Jerry G. Boykin, who has said Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” The training took place at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

And in 2014, Rep. John Bennett co-organized a virtual town hall meeting on terrorism featuring Gaffney, who has been referred to as one of the one of the anti-Muslim movement’s most paranoid propagandists. Trump used a shoddy poll commissioned by Gaffney’s organization to justify his proposed Muslim ban.

The Center for Security Policy is scheduled to give Bennett its National Defender of Freedom Award on October 27 at the Sequoyah County Fairgrounds.

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