Please see the updates at the end of this post, which include comments from John Guandolo, the Phoenix Police Department, and the MCSO.
The backlash is building against Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's upcoming anti-Muslim training session, featuring Islamaphobic ex-FBI agent John Guandolo, who believes that CIA Director John Brennan is a secret Muslim.
The Phoenix Police Department has confirmed to me that it will not be sending any representatives to the controversial, day-long seminar, which is being held at a Tempe hotel on Friday.
Other law enforcement agencies may be getting cold feet too, including the MCSO, but that remains unconfirmed at present. (Note: MCSO has since confirmed non-participation, please see updates below.)
The Arizona office of the Anti-Defamation League sent Montgomery a letter last week critical of Guandolo, though the ADL says Montgomery has yet to respond to the letter.
And most troubling, Guandolo's involvement in the training already may have resulted in threats against local Muslims and Mosques.
Liban Yousuf, a spokesman for the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, informed me that CAIR and local Muslim religious leaders recently have received "threats of violence" because of the controversy.
He said CAIR's Chandler office had received a voicemail threat, which it has reported to the FBI.
"It was something to the effect that, `you guys are a known Hamas front group and are lying to the American people, and if you don't come out and expose yourself in the press...your shield or your safety will be no more,'" he explained.
Yousef said he received a similar voicemail threat on his cell phone, with a deadline for him to act, or there would be consequences.
Other local Muslims, labeled by Guandolo in a blog post as being members of Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood, have also gotten threats, according to Yousef.
"There are 22 [Mosques] in the Valley," Yousuf told me. "Guandolo, he named a number of those mosques on his blog, [calling them] `known Muslim Brotherhood,' `known Hamas'...The same ones he identified are the ones getting threats."
All threats deemed serious have been turned over to law enforcement, Yousuf said.
Guandolo's bizarre, McCarthy-esque blog post was removed from his website after Montgomery's office requested that Guandolo take it down.
In it, Guandolo called for the ACLU of Arizona to be indicted for aiding a terrorist organization because it had sent a letter to Montgomery asking that the training be canceled.
In a press release today, Montgomery blasted the ACLU for "spreading misinformation" about Guandolo's seminar, which is open to local law enforcement and prosecutors.
But the release said nothing of the ADL, which sent Montgomery a letter last week, expressing concern over Guandolo, while stopping short of calling for the event to be canceled.
The letter, signed by the ADL's regional investigator, reads, in part:
John Guandolo is a former FBI agent and is often described as an "expert" in Islamic extremism due to his background in law enforcement. However, he has significant involvement in U.S. anti-Muslim organizations, and has advocated conspiracy theories of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the United States. He is involved in ACT! for America, a grassroots organization that seeks to vilify Muslims and Islam. In addition, Guandolo is the co-creator of ACT! for America's "Thin Blue Line" project, a website that promotes offensive materials to law enforcement officials built on offensive claims about Muslims. Guandolo is also the Vice-President of the Strategic Engagement Group, a Virginia-based organization that seeks to "defeat efforts to subvert the United States Constitution and subjugate the American People [sic]" by Islam and Muslims.
In May 2013, Guandolo came under criticism when he stated that John Brennan, Director of the CIA, is a secret Muslim. Guandolo stated that "Mr. Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in an official capacity on behalf of the United States when he served in Saudi Arabia." Guandolo has also voiced his conspiratorial views regarding a 2012 documentary aired on media pundit Glenn Beck's online website. In that documentary, which claims that the government has allegedly been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, Guandolo said, "[t]he very people we're getting our advice from currently regarding the Islamic movement - terrorism, counter-terrorism--are leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood; those are the people advising our White House, State Department, FBI, CIA, DHS - that's a problem."
We are, therefore, concerned that Guandolo's presentation would paint a distorted view of the Muslim community, and promote bigotry and misinformation.
The ADL told me that Montgomery has not responded to its letter.
I should note that the ADL's weighing in on this subject is a big deal, as both the ADL and CAIR have been critical of each other in the past.
Via e-mail, I asked Montgomery's spokesman Jerry Cobb about the ADL's letter, the reports of threats to Muslims, and the PPD's declining to participate.
He wrote back, "We have no comment beyond the information we distributed earlier today."
According to more than one source, Montgomery recently met with local Muslim leaders to defend the training. At that meeting, Montgomery learned from a member of the PPD hierarchy that the department would not participate.
An unkinder cut may be from Montgomery's onetime ally, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The ACLU of Arizona's Legal Director Dan Pochoda told me that he was informed by counsel for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that the MCSO would not be sending anyone to the seminar.
A source at the MCSO tells me this is true, but I have yet to obtain official confirmation from the MCSO's press office.
I'm hearing that other law enforcement agencies will be avoiding the training session, as well.
Pochoda maintained that Montgomery's stab at publicity with this wacko training session has bitten the county attorney in the tuchis.
"It has backfired, and it will continue to," said Pochoda. "[Guandolo's] only claim to fame is this hateful message that there's a terrorist Muslim under every rock, embedded in all governmental agencies, including the CIA director."
Interestingly, according to several news reports, Guandolo left the FBI after admitting to sexual relations with a confidential informant during the investigation of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, who was convicted in 2009 on federal corruption charges.
A federal court document published by TickletheWire.com, a website that boasts "the latest news in federal law enforcement," details how Guandolo served in an undercover role as the CI's driver.
"[The CI] further reported that after the New Orleans trip she rebuffed 2-3 advances by Mr. Guandolo," reads the document, "including one in which she characterized Mr. Guandolo as inappropriately aggressive, but that she later had consensual sexual intercourse with Mr. Guandolo on two occasions in approximately May 2005. [The CI] also related that Mr. Guandolo solicited her to make donations to anti-terrorism organizations, including a $75,000 to one organization, and that [the CI] declined to make any donations."
The submission by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Virginia also states that,
"At this time, the undersigned understand that Mr. Guandolo was the subject of an Office of Professional Responsibility ('OPR') inquiry resulting from a document prepared by Mr. Guandolo, which was found and provided to his superiors, that detailed his affairs with female FBI agents."
Attached to the court document is an FBI report, stating that Guandolo admitted to the affair and "expressed deep remorse for his actions and expressed a hope that his personal failings would not have an effect on the substantive criminal case."
When I queried Guandolo about these circumstances via e-mail, he replied, thus:
I don't address why I left the FBI because the facts are on the record. I was recruited out of the FBI by the DoD for a greater sum of money, significantly more responsibility, and as much leeway as I needed to put the facts of the massive jihadi network in front of leaders who could have an impact. Those are the facts on the record and my attorney has corrected several reporters who have had to print retractions when they have stated otherwise.
If you are sin-free, please feel free to throw the first stone. I have made mistakes in my life. The one to which you are referring was 9 1/2 years ago (spring 2005). If you want to hang that around my neck forever and ignore an imminent threat to our society, then I might remind you of the word "forgiveness" and seriously question your motives.
During a press conference last week, I asked Montgomery why he would allow Guandolo to instruct his prosecutors on anything, given his history with the CI.
"Well," said Montgomery, "he's not going to talk about how to handle confidential informants. And he's not going to talk about the sanctity of marriage."
I guess the question now is not what he'll be talking about, but if anyone other than Montgomery will be in the audience.
Update 10:24 p.m.:
Via e-mail, I asked Guandolo to comment on the ADL's statement, the PPD's non-participation, and CAIR's reports of local Muslims and Mosques receiving threats.
He wrote back:
"CAIR is Hamas. Not sure how this is still unclear to you unless you intentionally want it to be unclear. They are, as a matter of fact and evidence, terrorists...specifically, jihadis.
"Giving them a moment of time continues to aid and abet them. The FBI cut off all contact with the for a reason and so should you."
I replied, wondering about the ADL and the PPD, as they are clearly not Hamas.
"There will be over 300 law enforcement officials in attendance. I do not have a breakdown of who all is or is not coming.
"When they see the facts and evidence, they will better understand the threat and will be able to do their job of protecting the citizens significantly better."
Update 9/19/2014 10:19 a.m.:
Phoenix Police Department spokesman Steve Martos released this statement to me, after I asked why the PPD will not be participating in the anti-Muslim training:
"The City of Phoenix Police Department values our relationship with every member of the community and our law enforcement partners. Events that may strain relationships are always closely monitored by department heads and attendance at those events is evaluated.
The Phoenix Police Department takes its role in preventing harmful acts to our residents seriously. We partner with the Department of Homeland Defense, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, and other valley law enforcement homeland defense teams to gather intelligence critical to our security.
Our primary goal is the safety of our residents along with positive relationships with our community, all which help to keep us safe."
Update 9/19/2014 10:33 a.m.:
The MCSO has officially confirmed that it is not participating in the training.
MCSO spokesman Christopher Hegstrom just e-mailed me, stating the following regarding today's anti-Muslim seminar:
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"No one from the Sheriff Office will be in attendance."
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