The party could soon oust four members, one who's Muslim and another married to a Muslim. First, some members plan to hear from an anti-Islam crackpot.
Emails obtained by the Observer reveal that members of the Tarrant County Republican Party plan to hold a training by notorious Islamophobe John Guandolo at an undisclosed location on December 29 — less than two weeks before the local party is set to vote on whether to oust four of its members, one who is Muslim and another who is married to a Muslim.
The emails, sent by Republican precinct chair Dale Attebery to a group of selected precinct chairs and invitees, bill the training as a six-hour class by Guandolo titled: “School: Islam and Sharia vs. the U.S. Constitution.” Guandolo is an ex-FBI agent living in the Dallas area who makes a living by hawking virulently anti-Islam trainings and DVDs to citizens and law enforcement officials.
In the emails, both sent in late November, Attebury claims that around 100 people will attend the late December training, including precinct chairs, local police and perhaps the chair of the Tarrant County GOP. Attebury promises a “personal presentation by Mr. John Guandolo” that will include “absolute proof on everything presented” and “facts/figures that will frighten you.” Attebury does not disclose the location of the training, citing a “need to keep a level of secrecy for a time.”
Attebury paints an urgent cause for the training. “Because we need to know the truth before January 10, there is no option,” he writes. “Because we are losing Tarrant County [to Muslims], just like Dearborn, MI was lost.”
So what’s happening on January 10? As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Associated Press, the party is voting whether to oust four members, including Dr. Shahid Shafi, the Muslim vice chair of the local GOP, and precinct chair Lisa Grimaldi Abdulkareem, whose husband is Muslim. The vote is the culmination of a long Islamophobic campaign driven by local activists such as Sara Legvold, who has defended apartheid and reposted stories on social media from white supremacist site Stormfront.
In what seems like an effort to stir the pot, Guandolo’s company, Understanding the Threat, posted a picture in October of Grimaldi Abdulkareem on Facebook with the following caption: “Another jihadi-defending muslim working inside the Republic party in Tarrant County TEXAS. Lisa Grimaldi Abdulkareem. Someone wake up the GOP in Texas!!!”
Grimaldi Abdulkareem referred the Observer to her lawyer, Alex Kim. Kim said that his client had received harassing online messages as a result of the post, but said he was not considering any legal action at the moment.
At first, the Facebook post drew a series of vitriolic comments aimed at Grimaldi Abdulkareem. But soon, defenders arrived. “I know Lisa and she is no threat except to maybe the liberal judges trying to turn Tarrant County Blue,” wrote Joel Starnes. “Who is the misguided hoodwink that posted this fake news?” wrote Duhnelle Essary.
Tarrant County, Texas’ only remaining urban red county, has an identity crisis on its hands. Beto O’Rourke actually beat Ted Cruz there in November by a narrow margin. And the party is clearly divided about whether Muslims belong in their apparently shrinking ranks.