Police Counter-Terror Training Scrutinised by Washington Monthly

The Washington Monthly has a long article, by Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze, that takes a critical look at the various experts currently providing “counter-terror” training to US police forces. The report complements a Washington Post piece from December (which I blogged here), and introduces some new individuals.

First up is a certain Sam Kharoba; Stalcup and Craze describe a lecture he gave to law enforcement officers at Broward College in December:

…jihadists telegraph their extremist intentions in altogether predictable ways. One only has to learn the signs. Take Mahmoud—Kharoba’s preferred name for a generic Muslim. Kharoba can tell whether Mahmoud is a Wahhabi… just by going through Mahmoud’s trash. There will be no pre-approved credit card offers, because interest is forbidden in Islam. There will be no brown wax fried-chicken bags, because fried chicken isn’t halal.

…”Would Islam be tolerated if everyone knew its true message?” he asked the class. “From a Muslim perspective, do you want non-Muslims to know the truth about Islam?”

“No!” came the audience reply.

…Sam Kharoba came to the United States from Jordan when he was seventeen to study computing at Louisiana State University. When the 9/11 attacks happened, he was working as a programmer… Kharoba quit his job and began work on a database of every jihadi website and name that he could find… He fell into teaching by chance, in 2002, when the Community Oriented Policing Services Program in Louisiana invited him to give a talk. Kharoba had no professional experience in law enforcement, no academic training in terrorism or national security, and is not himself a Muslim. But as a Jordanian-born Christian he was able to turn his place of birth into a selling point. When we asked the dean of the Institute of Public Safety why she recruited Kharoba to teach there, her answer was that Kharoba “put the flavor of Middle Eastern culture into it.”

…In November 2010, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the sheriff in Pasco County, Florida, planned to spend $45,000 of a $361,000 training budget teaching local officers how “radical Muslims groom their facial hair and wear their pants, as well as a ‘behavioral analysis technique to distinguish visually between moderates and radicals.’;” Those classes held at Pasco-Hernando Community College will be taught by Sam Kharoba.

Kharoba runs the “Counter Terrorism Operations Center”, which has a website here; the site’s front page includes a prominent link to an American Thinker article which warns that the USA is becoming “a de facto shariah state”. In 2008 he spoke at at two rallies organised by Americans Against Hate. The first was against CAIR and also featured Allen West, while the second was to demand the removal of a (since deceased) Islamist from the Broward County School Board’s Diversity Committee. According to the Canada Free Press:

The October 17 rally will include signs and will feature a number of prominent members of the community. They include: State House Majority Leader, Representative Adam Hasner; President of the Counter Terrorism Operations Center, Sam Kharoba; spiritual leader of Ramat Shalom, Andrew Jacobs; spiritual leader of the Worldwide Christian Center, Pastor O’Neal Dozier; co-founder of the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation, Tuly Wultz; and Chairman of Americans Against Hate, Joe Kaufman.

(Dozier previously featured on this blog here, and Kaufman here)

However, a 2008 outline of Kharoba’s course which can be seen here stresses that the War on Terror “is not a war against a religion, it is a war against terrorist organizations that hijacked Islam and mutated its harmony”. PDF outlines of Kharoba’s course can be found at various sites; some of these contain more detailed biographical profiles, such as this one:

Sam is a Christian Jordanian from Amman. His father worked in Jordan with the British Council. This allowed him exposure to both Western and Arabic cultures and languages while growing up. Sam received an Advanced Certificate of Education in Arabic Culture from the University of London, and a B.S. from LSU. He is a subject-matter expert in Middle-Eastern affairs. Currently, he provides consultation and training for the criminal justice sector. His in-depth studies of Arabic and Islamichistory and culture provide him a unique capacity, knowledge, and expertise that enable him to provide valuable and objective analysis on Middle-Eastern affairs and the problems associated with Islamistfundamentalism and terrorism.


Instructor Sam Kharoba, with First Capital Technologies, is a consultant trainer, born in Amman Jordan, studying Arabic culture at University of London, A-Level GCE in Arabic Culture. Inventor of UNIS, Unique Name Identification System.

“A-Levels”, as everyone in Britain knows, are pre-university level courses. His First Capital Technologies company provides name-matching software, and was discussed in 2007 by the Economist:

Sam Kharoba of First Capital Technologies, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says his firm’s sales have doubled in each of the past three years. Its clients include America’s Defence Department and over 20 other government agencies… As watch-lists multiply beyond the realms of intelligence and international travel, demand for such software is likely to grow.

Also profiled by the Washington Monthly is John Giduck, a lawyer who has worked in Russia and who runs the Archangel Group:

…He claims to have trained with multiple Russian special forces units, and to be certified by the “Vityaz Special Forces Anti-Terror School.” In 2004, Giduck traveled to Russia immediately after the Beslan school massacre and wrote a book called Terror at Beslan. It was published in 2005, and it raised Giduck’s profile, earning him a guest appearance on the Glenn Beck show in the fall of 2007. Among the book’s most sensational allegations is that the terrorists at Beslan systematically raped their hostages, a claim that no other primary source account has made. In the meantime, Giduck has also become an in-demand counterterrorism trainer.

…In Terror at Beslan, Giduck recounts giving a presentation on the 2002 hostage crisis at the Nord-Ost Theater in Moscow. After most of the terrorists were knocked unconscious by the gas that security forces pumped into the building, Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, came through, methodically shooting each of the terrorists once in the back of the head. Giduck is convinced that as Americans we could do better: we could shoot them twice.


When we wanted to know more about Giduck’s time with the Russian special forces, Giduck wrote back to say that he had done a “series of trainings with Vityaz [a unit of Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces] at their special forces compound and training school on the Balashikha Army Base about 30 miles east of Moscow from 1999 to 2004” and had had close access to a series of elite Russian units, including Rus, another Spetsnaz division. When we made inquiries at the Russian Interior Ministry, we were informed that Giduck had not trained with Vityaz. Instead, he took a commercial course in extreme survival skills, with no counterterrorism component. Representatives from Rus said they had never heard of Giduck.

Giduck’s books include The Green Beret in You, which exists in audio-book form narrated by none other than thriller-writer Brad Thor; back in July Thor attacked this blog by name for “utter nihilism” when I noted some doubts being expressed about his “Mullah Omar in custody” story. Thor gushes that the book is “The essential guide to being a real man. If John Wayne had left a how-to manual on being a man, this would be it.”

Other figures mentioned by Stalcup and Craze include Joe Bierly of Counterterrorism Training and Consulting and Richard Hughbank of Extreme Terrorism Consulting, both of whom are combat veterans, and Keith Flannigan, certification chairman of the Anti-Terrorism Accreditation Board; Hughbank is an ATAB-certified “master anti-terrorism specialist” and a member of ATAB’s Standards Committee. As for Flannigan:

Flannigan claims numerous qualifications: a BA from Kent State University in 2008, an MA in psychology from the University of Frankfurt, likewise in 2008, and a PhD in philosophy from Northfield University—once again in 2008. However, the National Student Clearing House, a degree-verification service, was unable to find record of Flannigan at Kent State, nor did the University of Frankfurt find any evidence of attendance. When queried, Flannigan claimed that we couldn’t find his records because Keith Flannigan is not his legal name. Flannigan may well have a doctorate, for what it’s worth, from Northfield University, as it is run by the University Degree Program, described by Chronicle of Higher Education as “the granddaddy of diploma mill operations.”

Flannigan is also president of International Dynamics Research Corp., which was founded in 1979 by “former Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officers”.  According to its blurb, it conducts “international intelligence operations”, and has “successfully completed hundreds of asset searches, including searches on Noriega, Milliken, and Saddam Hussein”. Flannigan has also served as chairman of the Information Technology Security Council of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), which is the recognised body for security professionals. Back in November, Flannigan made a personal response to a critical posting on a discussion forum:

…ATAB is not in an “Effort to make money”. We have no annual dues and the funds that come from the sale of training materials go back to train other responders. ATAB has trained over 49,000 responders for free since 2002.

…ASIS is one of the best security networking organizations in the world. I have been involved with them for over 20 years. ATAB does not try to compete with ASIS. ATAB fills a training void for people that can not afford to travel around the world to take training. 13 of the ATAB presentations were presented at the ASIS seminar in Dallas last month. ATAB has past ASIS Presidents, Board Members, VP’s, RVP’s and Council Chairs as members. They have Directors of Agencies, 4 Star Generals, Director’s of Security from all most every Federal Agency and Members in most Fortune 500 companies.

…ATAB Materials are being used at over 40 police academies, The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, FBI, ATF, West Point, SPAWARS, USMC, US Army, US Navy and many more.

I have blogged on various private intelligence organisations previously (see hereherehere, here, and here). Political Research Associates is also planning to release a report this month on anti-Islam rhetoric in counter-terrorism training.