Despite the urging of local and national Islamic leaders, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins said Friday that he has no plans to cancel a controversial three-day counterterrorism training session next week.
Jenkins met Friday with Corey Saylor of the D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic relations and Dr. Nabeel Babar, director of the Islamic Center of Culpeper, both of whom asked the sheriff to cancel the training sessions scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center. The sessions will be led by former FBI agent John Guandolo, whom the CAIR called a “notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist” in a release earlier this week.
Both Saylor and Jenkins described their meeting as positive, but Saylor said he was not pleased the seminar will apparently go on as planned.
“Sheriff Jenkins wants to hold some good counterterrorism seminars, and that is how it should be,” Saylor said, adding, “We just don’t think John Guandolo is the man to do it.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, has also called on Jenkins to cancel the seminars. It said Guandolo has claimed that CIA Director John Brennan is a secret Muslim agent for the Saudis.
Jenkins said Friday that he offered to hold the sessions with a disclaimer stating that his department does not necessarily agree with anything Guandolo might say in his “Jihadi Networks in America” training programs.
Jenkins said he also offered Saylor and Babar an opportunity to talk with his staff on Monday and hold a more formal educational session at some later date.
“The more information we can get the better,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins earlier stated that he and his men were capable of separating facts from any theories offered by Guandolo.
“We’ve got sense enough not to take anything we might not agree with at face value,” he said.
Although Saylor said he was pleased with Jenkins’ bid at “addressing our concerns,” he said that he was disappointed with the sheriff’s refusal to cancel the training sessions.
CAIR sent letters to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice and the Rappahannock Regional Justice Academy on Friday afternoon asking that officers attending the seminar not be given the 40 hours of re-certification credits it now carries.
“We respectfully request that the Department of Criminal Justice Services withdraw its accreditation for this hate-filled training program,” the letter to DCJS Director Garth Wheeler stated.
According to a CAIR news release, Wheeler responded by saying he would look into the matter.
Jenkins said he assured Saylor and Babar that the seminar “was not a political stunt.” He said he also told them that some of the problems that have arisen might have been avoided “if we had talked earlier.”
“I don’t like to be prejudged,” Jenkins said.
To ensure safety for everyone, Jenkins said tight security measures will be put in place next week when Guandolo holds his seminars.
A total of 50 officers from Culpeper, various parts of Virginia and other states are expected to attend.