A former FBI agent that fought with Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek at a conference in Nevada over the summer won't face criminal charges.
While there, he got into a confrontation with a man named John Guandolo, a former FBI agent who runs the site Understanding the Threat. Both Stanek and Guandolo, in statements afterward, said the other started it, according to KOLO TV. Guandolo was cited for battery.
Stanek got a harassment restraining order from Hennepin County issued against Guandolo, the sheriff's office said in a statement, saying Guandolo "physically assaulted" Stanek.
In August, the site Imagine2050 got a copy of the sealed restraining order.
According to the site, Stanek said he agreed to meet Guandolo that day to talk about a story posted on Understanding the Threat that blamed Stanek for an increased jihadi threat in Hennepin County. It was titled “In This War Minnesota’s Twin Cities Are Lost.”
Imagine2050 says Stanek had issues with inaccuracies in the story, tensions rose, and the two fought.
FOX 9 just this week obtained video of the scuffle, in which you can see Guandolo take a couple big swings at Stanek. But Guandolo won't be charged, prosecutors in Washoe County, Nevada, decided, according to the Star Tribune.
So who the heck is John Guandolo?
Guandolo is the founder of Understanding the Threat, which is often referred to by shorthand as UTT. The organization pushes for training, education and policies designed "to defeat the enemy."
Who is "the enemy?" It seems to be Muslims, in Guandolo's view.
The site's "about" section says UTT is the only American organization training people "about the Global Islamic Movement and the jihadi networks in communities around the nation."
That's what the Twin Cities-focused story Guandolo posted was about. In it, he describes Minneapolis and St. Paul as being "in enemy-held territory," and "under the control of a collaborative jihadist/marxist element there."
He accuses Stanek of not doing anything to deter attacks by Muslims in the state, and bristles at the idea of "outreach" efforts.
Guandolo travels around the country, presenting what Imagine2050 describes as "anti-Muslim workshops."
Minnesota has the largest Somali population outside of Somalia (about 74,000, one estimate says). Many of them are Muslim and live in the Twin Cities.
There have been concerns about the allure of militant groups such as the Islamic State for young men in the Twin Cities area, and 22 have left the country to fight overseas, according to reports from early 2016.
Within Stanek's purview (Hennepin County) there have been a number of high-profile crimes specifically targeting Muslims. A few examples:
- A man admitted to threatening to blow up a Minneapolis mosque, citing "all you immigrants in it."
- The doors and windows at Minneapolis' Umatal Islam Center were smashed.
- Two Muslim men were shot on the way to the mosque, with the suspect saying, "I hate Muslims."
- The Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed.
- And then later robbed by two people wearing ape masks.
Statistics from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that from January 2008 through 2016, right-wing extremist groups were responsible for planning 115 domestic terror incidents – about 70 were actually executed, while the rest were foiled.
During that same period, there were 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism in the U.S., though only about 15 actually occurred – the rest were foiled and never happened.
FBI figures have shown a rise in hate crimes against Muslim individuals in the U.S.