Chris Gaubatz of the anti-Muslim hate group Understanding the Threat (UTT) is scheduled to speak at a meeting tonight, January 9, organized by the Amherst County Republican Committee in Virginia at Second Stage in Amherst, Virginia.
Gaubatz has a history of pushing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, including claiming that all Muslims are “funding terrorism” through zakat (the almsgiving pillar of Islam) and claiming that American Muslims and Muslim civil rights organizations are engaged in “total warfare” against the United States.
As first reported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the event was originally scheduled to take place a the Amherst Sheriff’s Office. However, after CAIR contacted the sheriff’s office and issued a press release about Gaubatz and UTT’s anti-Muslim track record, the sheriff’s office dropped the event. This left event organizers scrambling to find a new location.
Robert McCaw, CAIR’s government affairs director, said his organization welcomed the venue change.
“Far too often, local Republican committees and sheriff offices are taken in by the deceit of network Islamophobia trainers who promise real insights into national security but only deliver hate, bigotry, and suspicion of the American Muslim community,” McCaw told Hatewatch.
Despite the setback, the Republican group has chosen to host the anti-Muslim figure at a new location.
Gaubatz works closely alongside his boss John Guandolo, the founder and president of UTT. Both regularly travel the country briefing law enforcement and civilians alike about the so-called “threat” of “jihadi networks” in the United States.
Since resigning in disgrace from the FBI in 2008 after a sexually inappropriate relationship with a witness during an investigation, Guandolo has turned to a career peddling anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories as a self-styled "counterterrorism consultant." He has claimed Muslim student organizations on college campuses only exist to “recruit jihadis” and that mosques in America “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”
Last year, court documents came to light, first reported by the Center for New Community, revealing Hennepin County, Minnesota Sheriff Richard Stanek accused Guandolo of assaulting him during a law enforcement conference in Reno, Nevada. The tension between the two men stemmed from Guandolo accusing Stanek of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood because he would not book a UTT training in his county.
The Amherst County Republican Committee schedule suggests problematic rhetoric will be prevalent during the presentation, noting Gaubatz is scheduled to speak about “the threat to our country by Muslim extremist[s].”
The leadership at UTT relies heavily on law enforcement and elected officials to profit from pushing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and demonizing American Muslims. As McCaw points out, “Hatemongers such as Guandolo and Gaubatz are often legitimized by elected officials, law enforcement agencies, and mainstream Republican groups by lending them their name and a forum to spread hate.”