Next week, the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America and its grassroots activists will again descend upon Washington, D.C. for its annual conference. The racist gathering brings together ACT figures, elected officials and a host of anti-Muslim extremists.
Over the past year, ACT has continued to bash Muslims at the local and national level. Founder Brigitte Gabriel travels the country telling audiences and media outlets: “It’s about time we see more patriotism on the part of the Muslim community and less terrorism,” and, “Europe will no longer be Europe by 2050. Europe has already become Eurabia. Europe is Eurabia right now."
In 2015, ACT organized refugee resettlement working groups in an effort to combat against the relocation of Syrian refugees to the United States. Since then, its chapters have organized protests outside of refugee offices and have been successful in pushing elected officials to act against relocating refugees in their areas.
A key part of ACT’s conference is a legislative briefing held at the Capitol building where members of Congress brief conference attendees on national security issues. This year, according to Gabriel, 18 federal officials will address the event, though ACT has declined to identify the speakers citing worries of attacks from the “Islamic lobby.” But many of the conference speakers are known.
Here are five speakers scheduled to participate in ACT’s event next week:
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (U.S. Army, Retired) – ACT for America and Donald Trump Advisor
Flynn is a retired lieutenant general who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. More recently, Flynn has served as an advisor to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and was recently hired by ACT to serve as an advisor for the organization’s board. When Flynn is not advising ACT or Trump, he has been on a nationwide speaking tour to promote his new book, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies with the help of ACT, whose local chapters have organized many of Flynn’s stops. During one appearance in Dallas, Flynn likened Islam to a cancer, claiming that documents recovered from terrorist organizations instruct followers to "get into the bloodstream of the opposition," which Flynn said means to attack Western nations.. Flynn, like Trump has also used his Twitter account to tweet anti-Semitic material. In July, Flynn retweeted an anti-Hillary Clinton message that included the anti-Semitic remark, “Cnn implicated. ‘The USSR is to blame!’ … Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.”
Brigitte Gabriel – Founder of ACT for America
The founder of ACT for America in 2003, Brigitte Gabriel has been described by The New York Times Magazine as a “radical Islamophobe,” and it’s not hard to see why. In a 2007 course at the Department of Defense’s Joint Forces Staff College, she said that any “practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah … who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.” The same year, The Australian Jewish News quoted her saying, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” Four years later, she claimed that “[t]ens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America, operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities.”
Gabriel’s anger at Muslims is apparently rooted in her background as a Lebanese Maronite Christian who, she claims, lived in a bomb shelter for seven years “in pitch darkness, freezing cold, drinking stale water and eating grass to survive.” But a number of critics have questioned parts of her story, even calling her a con woman. (She once described Hamas as bombing Jordan in the 1970s, but the group did not form until 1987.) Despite her murky past, Gabriel has built a very large and influential network. ACT! boasts thousands of members comprising hundreds of chapters nationwide. In recent years, she has made attempts to reach out to law enforcement through the creation of the Thin Blue Line project, billed as a “one-stop internet resource for information concerning the perceived threat of Muslim infiltration and terrorism in the country.” Its key component is a “Radicalization Map Locator,” listing the addresses of every Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the country as well as a number of mosques and Islamic institutions– all listed as suspected national security concerns.
Erick Stakelbeck – National Security Analyst
A veteran speaker at ACT conferences, Stakelbeck is a young national security analyst based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular on the Christian-right channel Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), founded by fundamentalist political activist Pat Robertson. Before joining CBN, Staklebeck worked as an analyst for the Investigative Project on Terrorism, founded by anti-Muslim activist Steve Emerson.
Following the horrific attacks in Paris at the offices of the political magazine Charlie Hebdo, Emerson claimed on Fox News that Birmingham, the second largest city in the United Kingdom, is a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims. Emerson’s comments drew scrutiny from all quarters, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who called Emerson a “complete idiot.”
Stakelbeck often speaks at anti-Muslim gatherings and other right-wing events. In 2011, for example, he addressed ACT’s national conference. He also boasts of addressing the Values Voter Summit, an event organized by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC). He has also addressed events organized by the anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center. The gatherings, like the upcoming ACT! conference, attract elected officials and Islamophobes.
Stakelbeck often peddles conspiracy theories about Muslims. He decries the number of mosques being built in America and claimed has claimed that “there is a concerted effort by Islamists to infiltrate the very heartland of American society” – according to Right Wing Watch. Stecklebeck also promotes the popular anti-Muslim conspiracy theory that Muslims in America are engaged in “stealth” or “civilization” jihad to overthrow the U.S. and turn it into a bastion of “Shariah.”
Stephen Coughlin – Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy
Coughlin, a former intelligence analyst, is active on the anti-Muslim speaking circuit. Coughlin is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an anti-Muslim think thank headed by Frank Gaffney. At a CSP event in February of 2015, Coughlin urged Republicans to resist kneeling “at the altar of racism, sexism and homophobia” because “political correctness” is a way to “mainstream Islamic slander law in America” according to Right Wing Watch. Coughlin believes that “Islamic law obligates Muslims to use violence in the name of spreading or defending the faith,” according to the progressive think tank Political Research Associates. At an anti-Muslim gathering in Los Angeles last month called, “Islam and Western Civilization: Can they Coexist?,” Coughlin attempted to tie the Muslim civil rights organization Muslim Advocates to the Muslim Brotherhood by claiming their mottos are similar.
Raheel Raza – Author and journalist
Originally from Pakistan but based in Canada, Raza has appeared in a number of films produced by the Clarion Project, an anti-Muslim organization known for its embrace and promotion of conspiracy theories. Raza sits on Clarion’s advisory board. In 2014, Raza published an open letter to all Canadians on her website. The letter called for all mosques in Canada to be shut for three months in order to scrutinize the Imams sermons during the previous three and demanded a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries “till matters settle down.” In September 2015, Raza penned a piece for Huffington Post Canada where she called for the banning of female Islamic garb such as burka. Raza concluded her piece with the line, “The next government must legislate the complete ban on wearing face masks in public, not just to expose the hypocrisy of the Islamists but for the sake of our security as well.”