A group of 62 New Jersey cops were told they should be keeping a close eye on Muslims in their community on Monday. According to a local press report, however, they ought to be keeping an eye on who they bring in for their taxpayer-sponsored training.
The Asbury Park Press reports the Ocean County Police Academy hosted a counter-terrorism seminar titled "Know Your Enemy" taught by a man claiming to be a former Palestinian terrorist with vicious anti-Muslim and anti-gay views.
Walid Shoebat describes himself in his Twitter bio as a "Former PLO Terrorist whom now speaks out for USA and Israel." He's written books with inspiring titles like The Case FOR Islamophobia: Jihad by the Word; America's Final Warning. That's all one title.
With credentials like that, he was clearly the perfect person to be paid $6,000 to teach New Jersey cops how they should be profiling Muslims. The seminar was part of a professional development in-service training from a company called Courses Offering Police Specialization (C.O.P.S.), and paid for by officers' home police departments and unions.
Officially-sanctioned racial profile training already sounds like a horrible idea, but it actually gets worse. Shoebat's backstory as a Palestinian-American terrorist-turned-Christian has been disputed and called into question multiple times. The Jerusalem Post, the Washington Post and CNN have all looked into his history and have been unable to substantiate many of his claims, such as that he firebombed a Bethlehem bank in 1977.
And then there's his Twitter account. This is the guy police paid to have lecture to them for three hours.
Based on that, you can sort imagine how the presentation itself went. The Asbury Park Press reported it was a three-hour lecture, with no audio or visual accompaniment, that drove home the need to constantly monitor local Muslim citizens. The Press also reports, somewhat humorously, that Shoebat warned officers they should be monitoring "local dojos" for Muslims taking martial arts classes. Important stuff.
Thankfully, the New Jersey Attorney General's office caught wind of the presentation and is not cool with it. They will be issuing guidelines for future training sessions to prevent this from happening again.
“The private training program that took place in Ocean County last week clearly was not appropriate training and is not the type of training we want our police officers attending,” said AG spokesman Peter Aseltine.