MURFREESBORO, TN — A group that states on their website that the "Islamic Movement" is a "threat to our civil liberties" is training deputies in Rutherford County this week.
Deputies from the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department are getting three days of training from Strategic Engagement Group, a Washington-based nonprofit that says its purpose is to counter the Unified Islamic movement in the United States.
The debate concerning construction of an Islamic Center in Rutherford County has been the subject of much debate over the last few years. The project's faced a court fight, vandalism and arson. Tennessee Freedom Coalition, which openly opposed the new mosque, hired the Washington-based nonprofit.
On Monday, Strategic Engagement Group held a free seminar for the community, but Channel 4's cameras were not welcome. John Guandolo, the vice president of the Strategic Engagement Group, spoke at the event and pushed a Channel 4 camera that attempted to record the seminar.
Channel 4 was allowed to listen to him speak but could not record it. Guandolo talked about Hamas and its plan to destroy Western civilization from within, and spoke of Islamic centers as potential military compounds.
The local sheriff's department would not talk on camera about its decision to train deputies using this company. Deputies are able to use the training toward their Post Commission required annual training.
Monday's event was held at the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, which has been a vocal opponent of the new Islamic Center being built in Rutherford County.
Channel 4 checked with the Post Commission, which develops and enforces training and standards for all police officers in Tennessee. According to the Post, they allow individual law enforcement agencies to determine what training can count for the yearly minimums required of every officer.
See also "Company claims Islamic insurgency underway in U.S.", WMOT, 14 February 2012
And "Rutherford sheriff hires mosque foe to train deputies", The Tennessean, 14 February 2012
Guandolo takes the view that in the US "the major threat does not come from terrorist attacks. It comes from the Muslim Brotherhood".
Update: See "CAIR asks Tenn. to drop anti-Muslim law enforcement trainer", CAIR press release, 14 February 2012
Update 2: See Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, 15 February 2012
Update 3: See "Tennessee: state panel unanimously approves anti-Muslim training course for police officers", Islamophobia Watch, 17 February 2012