Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
2331 Phillips Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
Dear Commissioner Bailey:
The undersigned organizations are writing to express concerns regarding the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) relationship with Mr. Sam Kharoba of the Counter Terrorism Operations Center (CTOC) and apparent lack of guidelines and standards regarding counter terrorism trainers.
Documents obtained by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reveal that more than a year after Washington Monthly published revelations of factually erroneous and biased training by CTOC founder Sam Kharoba, he continues to be utilized for Florida law enforcement training.
Documents reveal at least 21 separate trainings conducted by Kharoba in Florida from 2005-2012, four of these in 2011 and 2012. In many cases, these trainings are sanctioned by the FDLE. We understand that two scheduled trainings have been cancelled this year.
Kharoba is unqualified as a subject matter expert. His presentations and training material are full of inaccuracies, sweeping generalizations and stereotypes. Trainee responses to class questionnaires also raise reasonable concerns about Kharoba’s course content.
Kharoba Unqualified as a Subject Matter Expert
Kharoba has neither the academic nor the operational background to qualify as a subject matter expert on either Islam or countering violent extremism.
According to his biography, which is included in a public record for a June 2011 training sponsored by the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office, Kharoba is qualified to teach mathematics. However, his academic training is limited to an “Advanced Level General Certificate of Education in Arabic Culture.” Also known as a GCE A-Level, this is typically a one to two year academic program studied by upper classmen and high school students in the United Kingdom and commonwealth countries in preparation for university coursework. A GCE-A level is not equivalent to obtaining a Bachelor’s degree.
Kharoba’s professional experience prior to founding the counter terrorism operations center was limited to 15 years “in the software development industry.”
Kharoba’s Erroneous and Biased Training is Already Public Record
Kharoba teaches extremist views about Islam that are inaccurate and biased. Such views were featured in “How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam,” an investigative piece published in Washington Monthly’s March/April 2011 edition:
· “When I look at the life of Muhammad, I get a very nasty image,” said Kharoba, pausing to look around the auditorium. The audience was silent. “I am talking about a pedophile, a serial killer, a rapist,” Kharoba said. “And that is just to start off with. Anyone who says that Islam is a religion of peace,” he continued, “is either ignorant or flat out lying.”
· “Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim.”
- “When you have a Muslim that wears a headband, regardless of color or insignia, basically what that is telling you is ‘I am willing to be a martyr.’
- “From the perspective of operational security, there are two things I am always looking out for: a shaved body and moving lips,” he explained.
- “If I pull someone over at a traffic stop,” said Kharoba, “I’ll ask for a couple of IDs. And if I see different spellings of a name, my Christmas tree is lit up. That’s probable cause to take them in.”
The author of a series of articles published in the Broward Bulldog in June, 2011, made similar observations:
- claims radicals can also be identified by 10 to 12 physical markers, such as headbands, types of facial hair, or a prayer bump on the forehead from frequent contact with a prayer mat.”
- said he shows students more than 50 photos of Jihadists wearing headbands, suggesting that wearing a headband every day is a sign of being a martyr and authorities should use that observation to target suspects.”
“We must learn what the Islamic agenda is about…It is about understanding your enemy…It is about understanding what the true meaning of jihad is…Many Muslims are going to talk to us about jihad being an internal struggle…But when you are gonna come out in the streets and you’re gonna start saying jihad fis abeel Allah, jihad in the sake of Allah, then that jihad means one thing, that jihad means to overtake over the world for militant Islam. That’s the meaning of jihad.”
Kharoba’s Training Manual Full of Sweeping Generalizations About Muslims and Errors of Fact
“A Law Enforcement Guide to Understanding Islamist Terrorism,” Kharoba’s main training manual, combines vile accusations against Islam, sweeping generalizations targeting all Muslims and factual inaccuracies.
Objective readers of this material will walk away with a clear impression that Al-Qaeda and its ideological allies are representative of mainstream Islam and that all Muslims lie as a matter of routine. The following passages reflect only a very few of the concerns raised by the manual.
The introduction begins with this claim about the Prophet Muhammad:
Kharoba continues prefacing his discussion of Islam with inaccuracies about Osama bin Laden:
“…fewer Americans realize that Usama bin Laden did not hijack nor twist Islam and that every one of his speeches is theologically correct according to Islamic theology with the exception of legalizing killing civilians and non-combative. Usama bin Laden is simply following the path and the mission that Prophet Muhammad started 1429 years ago.”
He also makes this characterization that Muslims lie, are following Islamic tradition while doing so and that Islam is incapable of co-existing with other faiths:
“I have seen many Muslim advocates flat out lie on television shows, the Internet and print media…Consequently, the American public views Islam as a moderate and peaceful religion capable of co-existing with other religions. This miss-information campaign is a central component of the Jihadist strategy where they are following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad who said “war is deceit” and what better way to win a war than to convince your opponent that you are not fighting a war?”
The first chapter attacks the entire religion of Islam and attempts to prove, through selective evidence, that it is based in violence. He writes the following:
“Most of us have heard statements similar to ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and that ‘Muslim radicals hijacked, twisted and altered Islam to justify their Jihad against non-Muslims.’ This book will provide definitive proof contradicting these statements and allegations.”
In one particularly stereotypical characterization of all Muslims, Kharoba writes:
“Stoning to death is another example of the lack of reformation in Islam. Instead of banning stoning to death, Muslims practice this barbaric act as a sporting event similar to football and baseball games.”
Troubling Trainee Responses
In the records obtained by CAIR, trainee responses to an after class survey asking what was useful or how will officers implement the material also raise reasonable concerns questions regarding what officers are being taught:
- “This can be very useful knowing that Shiite is more radical than Sunni.”
- “Going to make sure we have completed survey of existing ME/Muslim population and have a clearer understanding of their properties.”
- “Culture of Muslims (how extreme they can be)…”
- “I will be more able to question the motives of a Muslim suspect.”
U.S. Senators Say Kharoba Quotes “Not Made by Adequately Trained Personnel”
Following revelations about Kharoba’s trainings last year, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs sent a letter of concern to Attorney General Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano. That letter quotes Kharoba and then says:
“These comments, of course, are neither factually accurate nor consistent with our nation’s fundamental values and are not made by adequately trained personnel. It appears, however, that some of these so-called experts have neither the academic nor operational background in the material about which they train.”
Attorney General Holder and FBI Director Mueller are both on record criticizing such trainings. AG Holder noted that they hurt both community oriented policing and counter terrorism efforts. Director Mueller ordered similar material purged from FBI trainings. Similarly, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey called an anti-Muslim training “objectionable and academically irresponsible” and ordered such materials removed from military curricula.
Sam Kharoba’s training undermines the Building Communities of Trust (BCOT) initiative released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security and International Association of Chiefs of Police. It also directly contradicts the Line Training provided by the DOJ for our Law Enforcement Officers regarding SARS.
Based on conversations with FDLE officials, counter terrorism training appears to not be regulated or standardized by either the Criminal Justice Training Professionalism Program or the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission of the FDLE. After speaking with multiple individuals employed by the FDLE it seems that this type of training is left to the Regional Operations Centers. We discovered that there is no set of standards or policy regarding the qualification process of counter terrorism trainers. Our conversations indicate that the process is word-of-mouth, and if the decision-maker at the Regional Level personally likes the trainer, they are allowed to train Florida’s Law Enforcement Officers.
As community leaders and stakeholders we actively participate in the BCOT program with local, state and Federal law enforcement. We are building strong relationships based on transparency and the common goal of living in a safe and tolerant Florida.
We are requesting that Mr. Sam Kharoba be removed from your approved list of trainers and not be approved to train anyone associated with the FDLE. Officers who received his training should be retrained by someone with appropriate credentials and accurate subject matter content.
We also recommend that the FDLE adapt a policy that ensures individuals or companies offering counter terrorism training to our Law Enforcement Officers be vetted for academic credentials, operational experience and accuracy of training. We hope the two cancelled trainings this year may indicate a move toward termination of any relationship between FDLE and Kharoba, but have not received anything that clearly labels him as unqualified and inappropriate for FDLE entities.
Thank you for taking the time to read our concerns, and we look forward to hearing your response to our concerns.
American Muslim Association of North America
Florida Muslim Congress
Islamic Center or Peace
Islamic Foundation of South Florida
Islamic Center of South Florida
Islamic Movement of Florida
Islamic Society of Saint Petersburg
Jafaria Association of South Florida
Islamic Center of Boca Raton
Islamic Center of Miami
Muslim Community of Palm Beach County
Jamat- Al –Muttaqeen
American Muslim Community Center
United Muslim Foundation
Florida Islamic Association
Friends of Humanity
American Muslim Emergency Relief
Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida
Islamic Circle of North America South Florida
Muslim Social Services
Florida Muslim Bar Association
Dr. Imran Ismail
CC: Senator Joseph Lieberman, Senator Susan Collins, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio
Rep. Alcee Hastings
Sam Kharoba at the Rally Against CAIR, March 1, 2008. Video clip. Accessed May 30, 2012, YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poJaUT4mYa8.