Counterterrorism conference threatens to blow up on VA sheriff
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Former FBI agent John Guandolo’s counterterrorism seminar is taking fire from a Muslim group and others.
By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
CULPEPER, Va. – The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a counterterrorism program conducted by a controversial former FBI agent – and catching flak for it.
John Guandolo, the presenter, was branded a ”notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR urged Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins to disinvite Guandolo and distance his department from the “Jihadi Networks in America” program, which is billed as “Advanced Counterterrorism Training.”
Sheriff Jenkins told Watchdog.org that 20 staffers from his office will attend the seminar Feb. 25-27 at the Culpeper campus of Germanna Community College.
Tickets are $225 per person. Because his department is hosting the event, Jenkins said staffers would “receive a discounted rate.” He did not specify the savings.
As for Guandolo, Jenkins said “his expenses are his responsibility.”
Gearing his Culpeper program to “law enforcement, U.S. military and national security pros,” Guandolo told Watchdog that the conference is closed to the press and general public. He said he will conduct a public program in Fairfax in March.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal activist organization that monitors so-called “hate groups,” has its sights on Guandolo.
“It’s hard to believe that the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office would knowingly associate itself with such a disreputable character,” said the SPLC’s Josh Glasstetter.
Guandolo, who authored the book, “Raising a Jihadi Generation,” describes himself as a “counterterrorism expert.”
But Corey Saylor, director of Washington, D.C.-based CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, counters:
“Mr. Guandolo has a lengthy record of anti-Muslim extremism and unprofessional behavior. His views on Islam are the equivalent of historical anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic falsehoods. Guandolo offers only his own prejudiced and inaccurate conspiratorial views, not solid counterterrorism training.”
Glasstetter alleged that Guandolo “regularly attacks the U.S. government, claims that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency is a secret Muslim agent for the Saudi government and says that American Muslims ‘do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.’”
Unlike sheriffs in other states, Virginia sheriffs’ offices are not tasked with front-line law-enforcement duties. Their responsibilities primarily involve civil work, including serving subpoenas and court summons.
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of its Virginia Bureau. Contact him at email@example.com or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward
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