Over the summer, Muslim leaders across the state claim his homemade courses for law enforcement were discriminatory and misleading. They called for his immediate ouster from all 40 Florida Department of Law Enforcement training centers.
Kharoba was in Sarasota on Nov. 1 to defend his Cape Coral-based business, The Counter Terrorism Operations Center, before the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. It oversees, among other things, training standards for law enforcement throughout the state. Gerald Bailey, commissioner of the FDLE, asked for the issue to be placed on the agenda after receiving a letter from the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida in July.
Kharoba’s supporters claimed that inciting this kind of uproar among the Muslim community meant he was doing his job in revealing the truth about Islam. His critics believe he’s encouraging racial profiling, as well as using the courses to promote his skewed perspective.
“I have the same problem with Kharoba that I do with Muslim extremists,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa office of the Council on American Islamic Relations Florida. “Both promote the idea that you can’t be a good American and a devout Muslim, that they are incompatible with each other. He picks and chooses verses from the holy text out of context to prove his point. You can do that with any holy book. It’s academically dishonest.”
Kharoba, who has no formal training in counterterrorism, was born in Jordan, where his family lived until he was 16. He’s not certified by the FDLE and often his classes aren’t held at the training centers. He’s taught thousands of officers nationwide as well as more than 20 in-state courses through FDLE, including one for the Cape Coral Police Department.
“CAIR doesn’t want law enforcement to have access to the Muslim community,” Kharoba said. “You cannot have two versions of Islam, one in Muslim countries and another in the United States. Since I’ve been teaching six years ago … where are the complaints? How many Florida officers have violated a Muslim’s civil rights?”
The commission and the training center directors association concluded there are sufficient guidelines in place for vetting instructors. When it comes to independent contractors such as Kharoba, their responsibilities include asking for previous experience as well as evaluations from previous courses.
“Each individual training center vets its own instructors,” said Maj. Ian Moffett, chairman of the training center directors association. “There are specific processes in place for noncommission-sanctioned training.”
Still, Shibly said the meeting was a victory. He said a number of directors promised him that they would not hire Kharoba and would make sure their local law enforcement departments did not.
Kharoba said it’s a matter of taking the time to study and read Islamic texts and accused CAIR of going after every scholar that has an opposing view of Islam.
“When you go into advanced courses such as gangs, meth labs … you can’t begin to put standards on that,” Kharoba said. “In many of these areas, it’s done through outside consultants because of their experience.”
Kharoba has a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and a minor in mathematics from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. This does not, however, give him the right to teach about the basic tenants of Islam nor interpret the Koran, according to Naureen Chowdhury Fink, a senior analyst at the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation’s New York office.
Fink emphasized cultural sensitivity and using a community policing approach to gather intelligence, as well as the importance of trust to building critical partnerships between law enforcement and communities.
“People’s experience with law enforcement is (critical) at the local level,” Fink said. “The U.S. and its partners have been working very hard to relay the message that this (countering terrorism) is not a war on Islam.”