Texas law enforcement agency rescinds accreditation for anti-Muslim figure

John Guandolo, a disgraced ex-FBI agent with a history of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry as part of his law enforcement training seminars, just lost another customer. 

On May 16, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) rescinded the law enforcement accreditation it previously afforded to Guandolo, after reviewing a presentation he gave at a law enforcement conference on May 4 in San Angelo, Texas, which it found to be “concerning” and of “no training value.”

The decision by TCOLE, a state regulatory agency overseeing law enforcement training curriculum, comes after several civil rights groups raised concerns about Guandolo’s anti-Muslim hate group, Understanding the Threat (UTT). These organizations, including Muslim Advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote a joint letter requesting TCOLE rescind UTT’s law enforcement accreditation.

The move by Texas authorities follows similar findings by law enforcement agencies in Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, and Virginia, which have re-evaluated their decision to allow personnel to attend UTT seminars, in some cases deciding to offer no credit for training provided by UTT.   

Since founding UTT after his resignation from the FBI, Guandolo’s so-called “teachings” have been nothing more than a litany of conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim bigotry, saying that all Muslim groups in America “share the same ideology as ISIS” and intend to “overthrow America and establish Islamic law.” He has falsely claimed that Muslim Student Associations at colleges and universities across the country are “points of recruitment in America for the Muslim Brotherhood and jihad.”

Guandolo also firmly believes American Muslims should not be entitled to the same First Amendment rights as other US citizens, saying mosques should not be afforded the same constitutional protections as churches but instead treated like foreign military bases.       

The May 16 announcement by TCOLE is the latest of several recent damaging headlines for Guandolo and UTT. A scheduled speaking tour in the Midwest imploded last April after multiple cancellations. Last March, Guandolo falsely claimed on Twitter that a Southwest Airlines employee was a “jihadi,” which drew a firm rebuke from the airline. In 2017, Guandolo got in a physical altercation with a Minnesota sheriff at a law enforcement conference in Reno, Nevada, which led to a restraining order against him.

Muslim Advocates applauded the decision by TCOLE, releasing a statement which said, in part: “These events have no training value and, in fact, undermine the ability of law enforcement officers to do their jobs effectively…TCOLE’s actions today send an important message to other law enforcement agencies that Guandolo’s seminars are dangerous and should be rejected.” 

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.