Understanding the Threat is a consultation and training group founded by former FBI agent John Guandolo. Understanding the Threat is part of the inner core of the U.S. Islamophobia network.
Background on Guandolo
Guandolo left the FBI shortly after reports surfaced that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a key witness in a corruption trial targeting a Member of Congress. During a 2012 anti-Muslim training in Tennessee, he was videoed shoving a local news camera that attempted to cover the event. After a journalist at Kansas’ Wichita Eagle covered a controversy over a scheduled Understanding the Threat training, Guandolo accused the reporter of material support of terrorism, a clear attempt at intimidation.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that tracks hate groups in America, describes Guandolo as "a disreputable character, who 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.'"
Army War College commandant says a claim in Guandolo’s biography is “simply untrue”
Guandolo’s biography for his Understanding the Threat, LLC asserts the he “served as an adjunct instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.”
However, according to Major General Tony Cucolo, Commandant, US Army War College, “Mr. Guandolo's claim (in print) that he teaches at the Army War College and any other references (e.g., online) identifying him as an adjunct instructor here are simply untrue.”
Cucolo adds, “At some point during the Spring of 2011, during the elective portion of this course, Mr. Guandolo was invited to speak as a guest lecturer during one lesson of an elective entitled, ‘Strategic Intelligence for Counterterrorism: Contemporary Threats to National Security.’ This invitation was made by the faculty member who was in charge of that elective. To our knowledge, Mr. Guandolo came here, participated in an academic small group discussion that lasted no more than three hours, and then departed. That is all.”
Virginia-based Criminal Justice Academy pulls Guandolo’s accreditation, Kansas sheriff cancels training, Texas University cancels appearance
In February 2014, Virginia’s Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy rescinded its earlier approval of in-service training credits for state law enforcement officers scheduled to attend a training Guandolo was conducting in Culpeper, Va. In an email obtained by CAIR, Mike Harvey, executive director of the academy, wrote in part:
“In speaking with another academy director who also pulled support for this training I learned Mr. Guandolo appears absolute in his message that all Muslims ascribe to a violent ideology against westerners. While I support much of his message I cannot support one that casts all people of one faith in the same light. Certainly there are Muslims who are terrorists and I support training that discusses this but I cannot in good faith support a training that espouses because one is Muslim he or she must support violence and hatred toward those who are not Muslim."
Similarly, a Sheriff’s department in Kansas canceled a Guandolo training after being contacted about his conspiracy theories.
In early 2015, St. Mary's University's Center for Terrorism Lawin San Antonio, originally featured a keynote address by a representative of the FBI academy in Quantico, Va., along with a presentation by Guandolo. The event was sponsored by ACT for America. After being contacted by CAIR, the FBI withdrew its representative. The University canceled both Guandolo and the ACT for America sponsorship.
Guandolo’s conspiracy theory-laden, anti-Muslim claims
Guandolo claims that CIA Director Brennan is a secret Muslim agent for a foreign power.
In 2014, Guandolo asserted, "We need to find the Islamic movement anywhere it is, including in the United States, and crush it and defeat it now."
In his training materials, Guandolo refers to America's mosques and Islamic centers as "barracks." Guandolo falsely claims "it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians."
Guandolo believes that mosques are “front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist."
Of Guandolo the Times-Gazette reported, “Every major Muslim organization is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, the former FBI agent said, which he said was formed to overthrow America and establish Islamic law. ‘They’re having great success of implementing Shariah law, I could give you a thousand examples.’”Guandolo also claims in his blog “100% of all published authoritative Islamic Law obliges Jihad until the entire world is subordinated to Islamic Law. 100% of all published authoritative Islamic Law ONLY defines Jihad as "warfare against non-muslims." All of Gunadolo’s above claims are patently false and absurd.
Dave Agema is a former Michigan state representative who served as majority caucus chair as a Republican party member. Agema was elected as the national committeeman from Michigan to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in May 2012. In early 2015, the RNC's executive committee censured Agema and asked Michigan Republicans “to investigate a means to have the state party remove him.”
In early 2014, Agema made anti-Muslim comments on his Facebook account: "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”
In response to these and other anti-minority comments Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and state party Chairman Bobby Schostak both called on Agema to resign.
While in the Michigan legislature, Agema introduced legislation targeting Islam for unequal treatment in relation to other faiths. The bill’s text was patterned on Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts. In explaining why he felt his bill was important, he told the Grand Rapids Press, "They [Muslims] want specific laws applied to their specific groups ... They do not want to be under our law."
Agema brought Kamal Saleem to testify in support of the legislation. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation reported in 2008 that Saleem worked for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network for 16 years and in 2006 launched Koome Ministries with the mission to "expose the true agenda of [Muslims] who would deceive our nation and the free nations of the world." His bizarre claim that "in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam" promoted Calvin College history professor Douglas Howard to investigate Saleem's background. [NOTE: The title "Grand Wazir of Islam" has never existed.] "I concluded this person is a fraud," said Howard after his investigation into Saleem's claims.
Agema believes, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but just about every terrorist is a Muslim. I disagree that Islam is a religion of peace.”Agema has also claimed that Obama is a secret Muslim.
In comments he made regarding legislation addressing undocumented workers, Agema stated, "We have the largest concentration of Muslims in the state in the Dearborn area. I know we have (sleeper) cells there. That is what I really want to get at."
This website is a project of CAIR's Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia.