CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Several Muslim groups are challenging a Cape Coral man's counter-terrorism course that's being taught to Florida police, calling the teachings discriminatory and stereotypical. WINK News heard from a former detective with Cape Coral Police, who says that wasn't the case when he took the course.
Sam Kharoba has taught counter-terrorism courses for years through his Counter Terrorism Operations Center. He operates it from his home base in Cape Coral. He's been utilized by Florida Department of Law Enforcement and has even taught Cape Coral Police free of charge.
"It's not antagonizing or discriminating against people," Kharoba said. "We're simply explaining the differences so the law enforcement community can really do their job."
Kharoba was born in Jordan. He is not a Muslim, but through living in the Middle East, he says he's gained experience no degree can provide. He was recently brought into the spotlight after the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and other Muslim organizations called his teachings stereotypical. They wrote a letter to FDLE, asking that the agency sever its relationship with him, and create new qualifications standards for all counter-terrorism trainers.
"He makes blanketing statements, casting all Muslims in a shadow of evilness, and watch out for the Muslims, so that's what concerned us," South Florida CAIR Executive Director Nezar Hamze said. "This is troubling because it creates a chill when the Muslim community works so hard to be contributing in society and work with law enforcement."
We spoke with a former detective with Cape Coral Police took the course 5 years ago. For safety reasons, he asked to remain anonymous.
"I can honestly that the course was not in any way, shape, or form, biased against a particular group or religion," he said.
He said Kharoba focused on cultural distinctions between the east and west, and how police might need that knowledge on the job.
"Mr. Kharoba was very careful to explain what his cultural point of view was and the facts that he gave us were well-researched, were supported by third-party documentation, primary texts," he said.
In a post 9/11 world, he says counter-terrorism training is vital for first responders, and based on what he heard in the classroom, he said, "Mr. Kharoba was an outstanding teacher. I wouldn't think there would be any reason to sever ties with him. I don't believe the course he was teaching could be considered biased."
Despite all their differences in opinion, the need for a stronger relationship between the Muslim community and law enforcement is something both sides agree on.
FDLE is looking into the complaint, and Commissioner Gerald Bailey requested this issue be placed on the agenda of an October meeting. If you'd like to see the full version of this story, go to: http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2012-08-15/Muslim-groups-challenge-Cape-mans-counter-terrorism-course