When the San Diego chapter of the U.S. Naval Academy Association invited John Guondolo to be the keynote speaker at the group’s luncheon at Dave and Buster’s restaurant, it triggered a protest by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that claims to be the primary voice for Muslim civil rights in America.

John Guandolo has been a controversial figure for a long time. A graduate of the Naval Academy. a Marine officer, and an FBI agent, Guandolo now heads an organization called “Understanding the Threat” (UTT), whose mission is to provide training and education on the threat of Islamist terror to the West.

Because of his outspoken warnings about the infiltration of radical Islamists into American life, he has been called a racist and an ‘islamophobe’. CAIR calls UTT “an Islamophobic hate group headed by the notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist John Guandolo.” And the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group in its own right, calls Guandolo a “Muslim-bashing bigot”.

In January 2018, Trevecca Nazarene University in Tennessee canceled a scheduled presentation by Guandolo after CAIR exerted public pressure on the school. The Amherst County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia cancelled a speech by Guanodolo’s colleague at UTT, Chris Gaubatz, as a direct result of CAIR’s pressure. Feeling the power of their earlier successes, the Oregon chapter of CAIR called on the Deschutes County Republican Party to cancel Guandolo’s speech scheduled for February 20, saying “John Guandolo is an infamous Islamophobe . . . .There is nothing to learn but hate at this event.”

CAIR claims that in a 2009 speech in Tennessee, Guandolo accused CAIR of being a front for Hamas, a terrorist group in Gaza, whose aim is the destruction of the state of Israel, and the promotion of Islamic sharia around the world.

Shocking! Or is it?

CAIR is a front for Hamas. The organization was the brainchild of a group of senior Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters in the United States. They met secretly in Philadelphia in October 1993 to decide how to move the Hamas strategy forward in North America. The meeting was documented by FBI agents who secretly recorded it and made a transcript which is now in the public domain.

Among those in attendance at this meeting was Nihad Awad, now Executive Director of CAIR and formerly public relations director for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a Hamas propaganda arm in the United States. Less than a year later, CAIR was born and Awad was chosen to lead it.

In a 1994 symposium at Barry University in Florida, Awad quoted a line from the notorious “Explanatory Memorandum”, which served as the strategic plan for the growth of the Brotherhood in America. He quoted:

“The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by its hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all religions.

In 2017, CAIR was designated a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates.

So why is CAIR trying to shut down John Guandolo and his team? Isn’t this still America where we can speak our minds freely?

Maybe not. CAIR is not a organization based on American principles. Its goal is to promote Islam and to protect Muslims from the perils of living in a Western society. For CAIR, the best defense is an outrageous offense, filled with lies and distortions. For CAIR it is more important to shut down the opposition than to allow the free speech that will uncover its duplicity.

When CAIR-Oregon spokesperson Zakir Khan demanded that the Deschutes Republican Party cancel Guandolo’s speech, he was interfering in one of America’s most precious freedoms. CAIR does this regularly. And that is the great danger: that the politically correct society that America has become is ready to curtail the freedom of one group in order not to offend the members of another. CAIR is ready to force its adversaries into silence, while it demands for itself the right to speak freely, however offensively.

It is not okay for CAIR to bully into silence those with whom it disagrees. It is not okay that Americans get to hear only one side of the discussion. And it is also not okay that CAIR co-opts the right of free speech while denying that right to others. Muslim civil rights do not trump those of other Americans.

This is America. And our right to freedom of expression cannot be abrogated, particularly in the interest of “destroying Western civilization from within”.

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst and advisor in intelligence-led counter-terrorism solutions. Trained in Israel, where she lived and worked for sixteen years, she returned to the U.S., and served as CEO of Gerard Group International in Massachusetts until 2009. Since then, Ilana has been an independent consultant, working with major corporations and government agencies on security issues. Her global network of specialists and field assets provides an ongoing resource of critical, real-time intelligence and domain expertise. Ilana is the author of many articles on the terrorist threat to America and the West, and four books on Islamic terrorism.