FLORIDA – A state-contracted instructor on fighting terrorism is enraging the Muslim community in Florida for fanning misconceptions about Islam and polarizing the sizable minority by making it feared and suspected.
“Sam Kharoba is taking advantage of the atmosphere of fear,” Imam Mohamed Al-Darsani, executive director for the Islamic Center for Peace in Fort Myers, told News-Press on Sunday, July 15.
“He has no background in Islam whatsoever except rhetoric and he’s full of hate.”
Training law enforcement officers on combating terror, Kharoba has been under fire for fanning fears of Muslims.
Owning a for-profit company called the Counter-Terrorism Operations Center, his company was hired by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to offer training sessions.
His training material says that Islam favors war, not peace, and says countries with a 99-percent Muslim population are "ultimate Jihad-manufacturing societies".
Most of Kharoba’s training materials were compiled in the textbook entitled; “A Law Enforcement Guide to Understanding Islamist Terrorism. Understanding Islamic Theology — The Driving Force Behind Islamist Terrorism.”
According to information gathered via a Freedom of Information Act, Kharoba held at least 21 seminars in Florida.
The Cape Coral Police Department sponsored one in August 2009 and two similar classes were held in Fort Myers, in 2009 and 2010, though records don’t show whether Kharoba taught them. Other sponsors on the list are police departments through the state and public safety and police institutes.
Holding no certification in counterterrorism or degree in Middle Eastern studies, Kharoba’s academic background consists of a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and a minor in mathematics from Louisiana State University.
Making “sweeping generalizations” about Muslims, Muslim community leaders accused Kharoba of being not unfit to teach, let alone train police about their religion.
Last week, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and representatives of 30 mosques and Islamic centers sent a a letter to FLDE Commissioner Gerald Bailey denouncing Kharoba and calling for him to be removed from teaching courses.
FDLE received the letter from CAIR in a fax the evening of July 10, 2012, and will review their concerns,” Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for FDLE, said in a statement
It’s important to note that FDLE does not have authority over all law enforcement training in Florida.”
Trying to correct misconceptions fanned by Kharoba, Florida Muslim leaders have called for dialogue and mutual understanding to cross cultural boundary lines.
“I have no relationship with the Cape Coral Police Department, but I wish when they wanted to train on Islam they reached out to talk to us,” Al-Darsani said.
“Not bring in this guy to program them on anti-Muslim falsehoods.”
Islam is a comprehensive lifestyle that delves into every area of existence, said Nezar Hamze, CAIR’s executive director for South Florida.
Accusing Kharoba of taking Islam out of context, Hamze called for encouraging relationship with law enforcement and Muslims in Southwest Florida to flourish the way it has in their neighborhoods on the east coast.
“By collaborating, they’ve invited police to mosques, assisted with cases by providing tips and translated Crime Stoppers posters into Arabic and Urdu. That trust is growing,” Hamze said.
Together with Al-Darsani’s organization in Fort Myers, CAIR is currently planning a meeting with local law enforcement officials to be hosted by the Florida Muslim Congress next August.
Hoping to fight injustice and share peace and truth, they plan to train Muslim community leaders to know who to call if there is trouble, educate citizens on their civil rights and address mutual concerns.
“We need to get out of our bubble and start building relationships,” Hamze said.
“(What Kharoba says) is baseless garbage. I don’t even know how to begin to explain how far this is connected from reality. My kids know more about Islam than Sam Kharoba.”