Pressure from a Muslim activist group accusing a Florida-based security contractor of being an “anti-Muslim bigot” led an Illinois town to cancel an anti-terrorism session scheduled for Monday – and could put the company on a blacklist for the entire state.
According to an Associated Press report, the Counter Terrorism Operations Center in Cape Coral had planned to conduct a class called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” in the village of Lombard, Ill., when the Center for American Islamic Relations protested.
CAIR’s complaints related to comments Counter Terrorism Operations Center owner Sam Kharoba made as they were repored in a hatchet job by the liberal Washington Monthly in 2011 (headline “How we train our cops to fear Islam”) as well as materials used in the sessions.
In the article, Kharoba said, “Anyone who says that Islam is a religion of peace is either ignorant or flat-out lying.”
And in an email to the AP on Sunday, he wrote that CAIR’s complaints are spurious, aimed at undermining anti-terror efforts.
The statements “are manufactured distractions designed to shift blame onto the law enforcement agencies that are protecting the American people,” Kharoba wrote.
But they’ve succeeded in getting classes canceled in Lombard, a town just west of Chicago with a substantial Muslim population, several mosques and an Islamic preparatory college, according to AP.
In an article in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, which covers the Lombard area, Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio acknowledged not knowing whether CAIR’s complaints had any basis, but said basically it wasn’t worth the hassle.
He said CAIR’s lobbying efforts were helped by local politician and Muslim activist Moon Khan.
“Moon reached out to me to say, ‘Hey you know what Keith? What’s true or is not true (about Kharoba) — this just isn’t right and this speaker is sticking a stick in a hive,’” Giagnorio told the Daily Herald. “When this firestorm started — there’s no way in hell we’re going to get involved.”
The complaints also mean Illinois law enforcement officials will look more closely at the Counter Terrorism Operations Center before future activities are scheduled.
Kevin McClain, director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board told a radio interviewer that CAIR’s pressure could make Kharoba’s group persona non grata in the whole state, which leads the U.S. in Muslim population.
“I would rather err on the side of caution,” McClain said.However, before the cancellation, the director of the Northeast Multi-Regional Training Facility, which handles anti-terrorism sessions for Illinois law-enforcement agencies, gave Kharoba solid reviews.
“We’re satisfied that what he teaches is accurate,” Phil Brankin said. “He is a good teacher and, if CAIR feels otherwise, they are more than capable of running training programs for law enforcement that they feel represent their view.”
Kharoba has also served as an instructor for Florida law enforcement agencies and was the target of similar complaints from CAIR in Florida and other organizations.
In November, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission found no reason to stop Kharoba’s work in the Sunshine State.