Islamic group, Florida lawman wage war of words over counterterrorism training

A Florida man who trains police in counterterrorism and an Islamic advocacy group are firing verbal missiles over charges the lawman is biased against Muslims.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants Sam Kharoba, founder of the Florida-based Counter Terrorism Operations Center, barred from training state and local law enforcement agents because, CAIR says, he's a bigot.

“Kharoba is unqualified as a subject matter expert,” a letter from CAIR Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey stated. “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 has conducted at least 21 training sessions in Florida from 2005-12, including four in the past two years, according to documents obtained by CAIR. In many cases, the training sessions — not including two that were apparently canceled — were sanctioned by the FDLE and occurred after Kharoba was accused in published reports of erroneous and biased training.


Kharoba, who was born in Jordan, responded Thursday by telling the allegations are “absolutely false” and intended to shift blame onto the law enforcement agencies that protect Americans. He noted that CAIR has been linked in federal court documents to funding for Hamas, a State Department-recognized terrorist group.

“The FBI has prohibited its agents from engaging in any form, non-investigation cooperation with CAIR based on their status as an unindicted co-conspirator of financing terrorism,” Kharoba said. “The U.S. Congress has requested that the Department of Justice sever ties with CAIR based on the same unindicted co-conspirator status. Should [CAIR] be in a position to dictate to law enforcement who is a counterterrorism expert?”

Kharoba declined to indicate the last time he conducted a training session for FDLE, saying, “that’s between me and my clients.” Kharoba is now drafting a response to CAIR’s letter, which was sent last Tuesday.

FDLE officials, in a statement to, said they were reviewing CAIR's letter. Kharoba last taught for its members in March, Commissioner Bailey said.

“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s foremost training objective is to provide law enforcement the skills and knowledge they need to protect our citizens," Bailey said in a statement. "With this in mind, FDLE is reviewing the concerns expressed by CAIR."

Kharoba has plenty of support. The Florida Family Association called him a “highly skilled terrorist expert” on a web posting encouraging residents to contact Gov. Rick Scott and FDLE Commissioner Bailey to disregard CAIR’s concerns.

“If CAIR really desires good Islamic relations with all Americans, you would think that they would want highly skilled terrorist experts like Sam Kharoba to help law enforcement agencies to route [sic] out radical Muslims,” the posting reads.

And although CAIR's letter was signed by more than 20 other Muslim groups, including the Islamic Foundation of South Florida and the United Muslim Foundation, some Muslim leaders questioned the national group's place in the debate.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), told he was “very concerned” with several quotes attributed to Kharoba, including one describing the Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and rapist. But he said CAIR typically creates more heat than light in the national discussion over Islam and terrorism. 

“I do think we need a conversation as to what he’s teaching,” he said. “But CAIR and their Islamic colleagues are, I believe, part of the problem in that they prefer our nation not address any ideological  connections between political Islam and radical Islam. I think there’s a middle road here that CAIR doesn’t care about.”