A former FBI agent has urged residents in northern Minnesota to prepare for an attack carried out by Muslims. John Guandolo, who resigned from the FBI in 2008 and has been called by civil rights groups a "notorious Muslim-basher and conspiracy theorist," has toured the United States giving talks to law enforcement agencies and civilians about what he calls the threat of Islam. And last week in Minnesota, a state which has a small but growing number of Muslims, he appeared twice in rural areas of the state to warn of the dangers of refugees arriving from Syria, Somalia and other Muslim countries.
"Are you prepared?" Guandolo, who has also alleged that CIA Director John Brennan is a "secret Muslim," told a crowd at the Warroad Baptist Church, according to Minnesota Public Radio. "Are you prepared for the two or three dozen jihadis in, pick a city in Minnesota, with mortars or shoulder-fired rockets? You don't think they can get those in the United States?"
Guandolo was speaking just days before Minnesota played host on Oct. 19 to the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who has previously called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. And, like Trump, Guandolo has been met by sharp criticism. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors and attempts to combat hate speech, calls Guandolo a “notorious Muslim-basher and conspiracy theorist.”
Guandolo has continued undeterred. After the Council of American-Islamic relations (CAIR) protested last week his appearance at a Minnesota high school, he claimed that the country's largest Muslim advocacy group has ties to Palestinian militant group Hamas.
"Minneapolis is lost," Guandolo said to a crowd last week. "Gone."
Minnesota remains home to a small percentage of the estimated 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. However, in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the number of mosques in the state quadrupled to 45, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives. In 2006, it became the first state to elect a Muslim to congress, with Keith Ellison.
With that has come a rise in anti-Islam speech. Guandolo is not the only anti-Islam speaker to have found an audience in rural northern Minnesota. Usama Dakdok, who founded the Straight Way of Grace Ministry and travels the U.S. "equipping Christians to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ to their Muslim neighbors," has gone a large step beyond what Trump has advocated by calling for all Muslims in the United States to be deported. Dakdok holds more than 200 speaking events a year, and has appeared in northern Minnesota more than 20 times in the last year and a half, reported Minnesota Public Radio.
"Islam is not a religion," he said at one such event earlier this month. "It's a savage cult. Therefore, it is unconstitutional for a Muslim to practice Islam in America."
In the northern Minnesota city of Grand Forks, a few weeks after a December speech by Dakdok, a Somali restaurant in the city was firebombed. Dakdok denied the man convicted of the crime had been inspired by his speech.