The controversial instructor of this week's seminar for the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office, "Jihadi Networks in America," claimed that the primary Muslim group opposing his class is associated with the terrorist organization Hamas.
The Islamic Center of Culpeper, on the other hand, said former FBI agent John Guandolo, a national security consultant teaching the three-day training session, has views that encourage racial profiling of Muslims.
The hosting of the class by the CCSO has certainly sparked opinions both ways from across the country and state.
Guandolo offered a public presentation, "The Muslim Brotherhood/Jihadi Threat to America and Virginia," Wednesday night at the Germanna Community College Daniel Technology Center attended by at least 100 people.
There were no protesters outside the community college, as anticipated, and the mood inside was intent.
Guandolo, a Naval Academy graduate and former U.S. Marine, spent the first hour of Wednesday night's presentation establishing what he purported to be factual connections between high levels of U.S. government and Islamic terrorist organizations.
"This is not my personal opinion," he said. "It is evidence and facts that the other side has published, and has been entered into terrorism trials."
Guandolo commented on "the swirl" recently surrounding the three-day training session in Culpeper.
"There's really one major organization that's been pushing to shut this down. Why did the Council on American-Islamic Relations go to such great lengths to try to stop this training? One guy training 40 local law enforcement officers - why is that national news?" he said. "Because CAIR is Hamas."
Guandolo said his presentation was not about attacking the Islamic community or disparaging individual Muslims.
"This is about a threat to you," he said.
Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C., came out strongly against the instructor saying his views are anti-Muslim and that the sheriff should cancel the training.
In an email to the Star-Exponent Wednesday, Guandolo said he was disturbed by the newspaper's previous coverage of his seminar and "that at no point in your article did you mention that CAIR is a Hamas entity." He provided a list of 23 "specific facts" to support his claim.
CAIR spokesperson Corey Saylor said Wednesday that Guandolo's claim was a lie.
"If that were true, I would be in jail - end of story," he said. "Our headquarters is three blocks from the Nation's Capitol. In today's environment, if we were Hamas we would not be there."
Saylor said Guandolo's allegation that CAIR is associated with Hamas is about as credible as his allegation "that the CIA director is a secret Muslim."
Dr. Nabeel Babar, one of the founders in 2011 of the Islamic Center of Culpeper, said their group also objected to the choice of Mr. Guandolo for the local training course "due to his extremely controversial and discriminatory views about Islam and Muslims."
"We feel that the information to be provided at the seminar is inaccurate, prejudiced and misleading," said Babar, a Culpeper endocrinologist. "Training our law enforcement officers by this individual will encourage stereotyping of Muslims, racial profiling and discrimination."
Babar said the Islamic Center of Culpeper is a nonprofit charitable and religious organization established to serve the needs of the local Muslim community. The group hopes to open the county's first-ever mosque in an old church outside of the town of Culpeper, utilizing the facility also as a school and youth center.
The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word, Salam, which means peace.
Wednesday's public session by Guandolo in Culpeper on the Jihadi threat to America proved organized and peaceful with attendees intently listening and many shaking their heads in agreement.
Guandolo's statements to the receptive crowd included: 1) that CAIR has shut down similar training for federal agencies; 2) that the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups are leading an organized effort in the U.S. to harm Americans and overthrow the government; 3) that the top 20 Muslim organizations in the U.S. are part of Hamas; 4) that the Islamic advisor to President Bill Clinton was a senior financier for Al-Qaeda; 5) Hamas is actively holding weapons training the U.S. and 6) the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood in America is to destroy Western civilization from within by launching "a grand jihad."
Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins was present at Wednesday's event, and has attended much of the seminar he organized for local deputies, which he said has been going well. Jenkins said his deputies have posed tough and pointed questions to the presenter.
The sheriff said Guandolo has been even-tempered in his responses and has not backed down from what he believes is right. Jenkins said some of the instructor's statements on the Internet were taken out of context.
"Some of the misleading things online I compared to myself with some things in opposition to me through the years being cherry-picked, little things taken out of context, make you sound like you are much different than you really are," he said.
In a more complete context, Jenkins said, Guandolo showed that the questionable quotes attributed to him were actually quotations from others.
Asked about the practical application to Culpeper deputies of training on Jihadi networks, the sheriff pointed to Culpeper's infrastructure and location.
"Culpeper has more than one site of critical infrastructure and is a stone's throw from D.C.," Jenkins said. "To say that Culpeper should not have this type of training is living in a fantasy land because there are real examples all over the country where local or state law enforcement has been the one who intercepted or somehow intervened in an act of terrorism."
The crowd at Wednesday's event was largely aged 50 and older and Caucasian with the exception of a representative from CAIR, Omar, who filmed the presentation.