Bill Montgomery's Alliance with Anti-Islam Bigot John Guandolo Has Made Us Less Safe
Demonstrators outside Montgomery's recent anti-Islam seminar in Tempe, countering hate with positivity
One rule of McCarthyism is that anyone critical of scurrilous activity by its practitioners instantly is suspect.
In the 1950s, communists and communist sympathizers were the bugbears of infamous Wisconsin U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy, whose name has become synonymous with the unscrupulous ruining of reputations.
For Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and disgraced former FBI agent John Guandolo, the target is an entire religion, Islam.
With taxpayer money, Montgomery hired Guandolo -- who left the FBI in 2008 after admitting to sexual trysts with a confidential informant -- to instruct local cops and prosecutors recently on the "threat" posed by the Muslim community.
For Guandolo, that "threat" involves almost all devotees of Islam. He is on record as stating that mosques in America are fronts for terrorist groups and "do not have a First Amendment right to do anything."
Recently, Guandolo claimed President Obama may be guilty of "treason" because, when announcing air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, our commander in chief said that ISIS isn't representative of Islamic faith in general.
Weirdly, Guandolo has even gone so far as to assert that CIA Director John Brennan is a secret convert to Islam.
When I asked Montgomery about the crackpot claim during a press conference, Montgomery replied that Brennan hasn't denied it.
Which recalls the era of loyalty oaths, witch hunts, and stentorian senators asking citizens under oath whether they are now, or have ever been, members of the Communist Party.
Even before he hit Tempe on September 19 to lead an all-day training session sponsored by the County Attorney's Office, Guandolo engaged in classic McCarthyism regarding his Arizona critics.
After the ACLU and several local Muslim leaders sent a letter to Montgomery citing Guandolo's Islamaphobic excesses and asking the county attorney to cancel the seminar, Guandolo shot back on his blog that the ACLU should be indicted for "aiding and abetting, as well as materially supporting, a terrorist organization."
You know, because the ACLU sent Montgomery a letter.
In the same post, Guandolo went through the Muslim letter-signers, labeling some as terrorists by putting "known [Muslim Brotherhood]" or "known Hamas" next to their names.
Guandolo jerked the offending blog down when Montgomery's office asked him to.
But the gloves were off again after Guandolo's Tempe training session was finished.
In a recent blog post, Guandolo blasted Channel 12 reporter Brahm Resnik and Fox News reporter Mia Garcia as "local media collaborators," defending "stealth jihad" by not giving the Muslim-basher's lunatic ravings glowing coverage.
In another bizarre diatribe, Guandolo attacked Arizona Christian leaders critical of him, saying they "stand with jihadis" because they've dared to impugn his motives.
KTAR 92.3 FM talk-radio host Bruce St. James -- by no means a liberal -- got the same treatment from Guandolo when the ex-FBI agent appeared on St. James' morning show this week to defend the seminar.
When Guandolo claimed the two largest Islamic centers in the Valley are part of a "Muslim Brotherhood network," St. James suggested Guandolo was painting with too broad a brush.
Guandolo lashed back, calling St. James "grossly ignorant" of the Muslim conspiracy operating in his backyard.
"Until they break a law, I don't have any problem with it whatsoever," St. James said of local Muslims. "I get it: You're in the business of selling fear. I disagree. I'm not afraid of them in any shape or form."
The two largest law enforcement agencies in the Valley weren't buying what Guandolo was selling either.
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Both the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office declined to participate in the MCAO's anti-Muslim training stunt.
The much smaller Peoria Police Department said there was no interest among its officers in attending.
Significantly, the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona also sent a letter to Montgomery before the event, expressing concern that Guandolo's seminar "would paint a distorted view of the Muslim community and promote bigotry and misinformation".
The ADL letter was made public the day before the seminar. So far, neither Guandolo nor Montgomery has offered a rebuttal.
I don't blame 'em. It would be kind of tough to slime the most prominent Jewish civil rights organization in America, one that is a staunch defender of Israel, as a dupe of Muslim extremism.
Some law enforcement agencies went to the seminar, including members of the Tempe Police Department, the Scottsdale Police Department, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
There were several DPS vehicles present when I stopped by Tempe's DoubleTree Hilton on the day of the meeting.
I wasn't on the property long, as I was quickly intercepted by a County Attorney's Office detective and escorted to my car under threat of a trespassing citation.
Your tax dollars at work, folks.
Just before the seminar was over, a group of about 25 local Muslims, including members of the Arizona branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, gathered at the hotel's parking lot exits to smile and wave to cops and prosecutors as they left the training.
They bore signs that read "I practice Islam, let's start a conversation" and "We are Muslims, we can speak for ourselves."
Liban Yousuf, CAIR's young civil rights coordinator, told me that the idea was to counter fear-mongering with positivity.
"Guandolo is trying to present us as a threat," Yousuf said. "We're tying to let [the attendees] know we're just common people, their neighbors."
Among the demonstrators were Arizona State University students such as Nada, a psychology major whose parents emigrated from Lebanon for a better life.
"It's a little scary, to be honest," said Nada of Guandolo's seminar.
She said her parents were very upset, that they didn't understand why the event was happening.
Indeed, as a result of Montgomery's bringing Guandolo here, some local Muslims may have become the targets of harassing phone calls and threats, which they have linked to Guandolo's statements about them.
Yousuf told me that both he personally and the CAIR office in Chandler have received anonymous phone threats. He said CAIR reported its threat to the FBI.
He reported his to Phoenix police, which the PPD confirmed. Yousuf played for me the obscene rant left on his phone mail, which put Yousuf "on notice" regarding his advocacy for CAIR.
What the caller might do to Yousuf was left unsaid.
Such threats worry Usama Shami, board chairman of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, a mosque near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue.
He says the ICC Phoenix mosque has received nasty phone calls, which because of the timing, he believes are linked to Guandolo's smear of the center on Guandolo's blog.
The mosque has been the target of vandalism in the past and has even been shot at, Shami said. So any rise in anti-Muslim sentiment is of concern.
"My biggest fear is to go to a Friday prayer," he told me, "and somebody coming into [the mosque] and starting shooting."
Shami also complained that Montgomery's actions have injured the local Muslim community's otherwise positive relationship with law enforcement.
Mosques are "the first line of defense" against terrorism, and Valley Muslims are the first to report anyone who approaches them with "loony" ideas, Shami said.
"We are U.S. citizens," he said. "We have a vested interest in the security of this country. My kids go to school [here]. I don't want anybody to get hurt."
We should all want the same, including this county's top prosecutor.
Which is why Monty's indulgence in anti-Muslim McCarthyism is so disturbing -- and so disappointing.
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