Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s controversial counterterrorism adviser, worked for the FBI as an independent contractor lecturing on terrorism while also being paid by the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
But according to a report posted today by The Daily Beast, the FBI terminated its contract with Gorka because Gorka’s lectures were rife with sweeping diatribes against Muslims and Islam — a religion he described as opposed to American democracy.
“Officials familiar with his lecture said Gorka taught law enforcement officials there is no such thing as mainstream Muslims — only those radicalized and those soon to be radicalized,” Daily Beast staffer Spencer Ackerman reported.
Gorka told attendees at his program, an introductory-level class for participants in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, that “all Muslims adhere to Sharia law,” and described this as being “in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and American democratic values,” wrote Ackerman.
Law enforcement officials who attended his talk last August were “disturbed to hear a diatribe against Muslims passed off as instruction on the fundamentals of counterterrorism,” Ackerman reported. The next month, a senior FBI official told his colleagues that the bureau would no longer use Gorka, Ackerman wrote, citing unnamed government documents he said he had reviewed.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Gorka’s company received $103,000 from the FBI for training materials between 2012 and 2016. The Trump campaign paid him $8,000 for consultations in 2015, while he was still working for the FBI.
The Daily Beast report offers no material directly from Gorka’s FBI lectures. But it quotes from a February 2012 speech he gave to the Virginia-based Westminster Institute in which he castigates nonviolent mainstream Muslim religious practices as no less dangerous than jihadist terrorist attacks.
“The bad guys are learning and understand that it is not about frontal assaults and big symbolic acts of violence,” he said then. “It is about building a base, providing services, and providing Sharia-compliant mortgages in places like northern Virginia, ‘cultural centers’ in Minnesota.”
Gorka warned: “The enemy is learning.”
Attendees of the Joint Terrorism Operations Course, which takes place at the FBI’s training center in Quantico, Virginia, include agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and sheriffs and major police departments nationwide.
The Daily Beast report states that it is “unclear” if Gorka held a security clearance for his FBI lectures. The White House has also repeatedly refused to respond to questions about whether he holds appropriate security clearances now, for his position as a deputy assistant to the president.
In a previous series of articles, the Forward disclosed Gorka’s past ties to far-right anti-Semitic groups in Hungary, where he lived until he immigrated to America in 2012. The groups included the Vitézi Rend, an honorary order listed in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II.
Neither Gorka nor the White House responded to questions or to a request for comment from the Daily Beast. The FBI, Ackerman reported, declined comment for the story.
Larry Cohler-Esses is the Forward’s senior investigative writer. He joined the staff in December 2008. Previously, he served as Editor-at-Large for the Jewish Week, an investigative reporter for the New York Daily News, and as a staff writer for the Jewish Week as well as the Washington Jewish Week. Larry has written extensively on the Arab-Jewish relations both in the United States and the Middle East. His articles have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists, the Religious Newswriters Association, the New York Press Association and the Rockower Awards for Jewish Journalism, among others. Larry Cohler-Esses can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.