Anti-Muslim activist John Guandolo begins five-city Midwest tour this week
John Guandolo, a disgraced ex-FBI agent who heads the anti-Muslim hate group Understanding the Threat (UTT), will embark on a multi-city speaking tour across the Midwest on April 5 through 9.
The five-city tour is being organized in conjunction with the right-wing media platform Worldview Weekend, which houses UTT’s radio and television shows. Joining Guandolo on tour will be his partner at UTT, Chris Guabatz, as well as Worldview Weekend’s Brannon Howse. The advertised theme of the events is “Understanding the Threat of Islam to America,” and will surely feature anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories now synonymous with Guandolo and his group.
The cities include:
April 5: Des Moines, Iowa
April 6: LaCrosse, Wisconsin
April 7: Green Bay, Wisconsin
April 8: Bloomington, Minnesota — a suburb of Minneapolis
April 9: Pewaukee, Wisconsin — a suburb of Milwaukee
Guandolo touts his FBI background to lend credibility to his training courses, which are offered to law enforcement and civilians alike. Often omitted, however, is the controversial manner in which he departed the federal law enforcement agency. In 2008, Guandolo resigned from the Bureau in disgrace after a number of ethical breaches and bizarre conduct, including admitting to having affairs with female FBI agents and a confidential source he was assigned to protect during the corruption case of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA); he also solicited that witness for a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group.
After his departure from the FBI, Guandolo founded UTT and turned to a full-time career as an anti-Muslim fearmonger. During an event in 2011, he claimed U.S. mosques were fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that Muslim houses of worship in general, “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”
Guandolo made headlines last month for racially profiling an unsuspecting Southwest Airlines employee on social media. The inflammatory post caused such an uproar that the airline was forced to respond, calling the now-deleted tweet “cruel and inappropriate.” He later doubled down on his post during a recent episode of UTT’s radio show. As it turns out, this was not the first time Guandolo has posted pictures of unsuspecting airline employees and accused them of being “jihadis.”
During speaking engagements, Guandolo has baselessly accused local Muslim figures and leaders as well as Islamic centers of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood — a foreign political entity that UTT considers to be a terrorist group. He used a law enforcement training in 2011 to falsely accuse an Ohio college professor and state public safety outreach coordinator of being a terror suspect. He also told an audience in 2015 that the Muslim Student Association, a student group on college campuses across the country, exists only to “recruit jihadis.” Guandolo was invited to speak in San Diego in February where he proceeded to absurdly claim that a local mosque had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a 2016 radio interview, Guandolo claimed that Americans would soon see “dozens of jihadis doing multiple operations in conjunction with the Marxist and socialist groups like Black Lives Matter, which will be, you know, burning and looting cities like they did in Ferguson [Missouri] and Baltimore.” He has also promoted conspiracy theories such as claiming that Muslims are purchasing hotels, gas stations and convenience stores in anticipation for “a jihad here in the United States.”
And in 2014, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was still considering closing schools to accommodate two Muslim holidays, Guandolo published a blog stating, “I wonder if the Mayor will also institute a day off for all Japanese children in America on December 7th to celebrate the death of Americans at Pearl Harbor. Only seems fair.”
Last year, Guandolo got in a physical altercation with a Minnesota sheriff at a law enforcement conference in Reno, Nevada. The altercation, which later led to a restraining order against Guandolo, stemmed from him accusing Sheriff Richard Stanek of working “with jihadis in the community.” The charges against Guandolo have since been dropped. The events, however, sparked the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), whose leadership had previously endorsed UTT’s courses, to rescind its support of Guandolo.
Since the scuffle and retraction of the NSA’s endorsement, Guandolo’s law enforcement trainings appear to have slowed down significantly. Because of this, UTT has taken on more civilian-focused seminars. This speaking tour exemplifies that shift.