Self-described former Muslim terrorist encourages New Jersey cops to monitor Islamic communities

New Jersey officials said Wednesday that it was inappropriate to have a self-described former Muslim terrorist speak at a county police academy class called “Know Your Enemy.”

Walid Shoebat, a Palestinian-American, discussed his views on Islam during a counterterrorism seminar in Lakewood Township on Nov. 2. Shoebat encouraged officers to closely watch Muslims in their communities and said they should be suspicious of Muslims taking martial arts classes, which he said could be an indication they’re training to become terrorists.

Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said he received hundreds of emails supporting and opposing Shoebat’s appearance in the days leading up to the class, but had no authority to cancel it. Mastronardy and a deputy state attorney general sat in on the class after the New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations objected.

The state will hand out new police training guidelines to New Jersey’s 21 county prosecutors to clarify what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate for classes, Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, told the Asbury Park Press.

"The private training program that took place in Ocean County last week clearly was not appropriate training and is not the type of training we want our police officers attending," Aseltine said.

Mastronardy said Shoebat was scheduled through a private police vendor that works with the academy, but he wasn’t paid by the academy for his appearance. He said the only step he could take was to order that the class be moved off county property, which he did.

The vendor "COPS," is an acronym for "Courses Offering Police Specialization." It is owned by Jackson Township Police Detective Mitch Cowit. Cowit did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.

James R. Sues, executive director of CAIR, said the attorney general's response was what the group wanted.

"That is an excellent outcome, that is the kind of thing we were looking for, especially given that it was the lack of guidelines that resulted in the kind of training that happened last week," Sues told the Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.