This blog is doing a deep dive of a Christian nationalist pastor who was involved in storming the United States Capitol in January 6, 2021. In looking at Tyler Ethridge’s Facebook page I noticed that this Christian nationalist is influenced by John Guandolo. Its one of many individuals that shaped Ethridge. Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent known for his conspiracy theories and warnings about the threat Islam poses to the United States. Guandolo is a troubled individual that sadly inspired a lost soul in Florida.
“Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate.”
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.“
Charles De Gaulle
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8 NIV
Our Christian nationalist pastor/alleged terrorist Tyler Ethridge.
John Guandolo claiming that John Brennan who would led the CIA one day converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia working for the agency.
This blog is deep dive on one of the alleged Christian nationalists pastor/rioters who was involved in storming the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. This blogger is learning that the rabbit hole with Tyler Ethridge is deep. In order to understand why Tyler Ethridge would support acts of violence by a mob I find myself Googling and researching names that he has posted on Facebook. Many of these names I am not familiar with and have been spending time researching these individuals. Each time I use Google its a deeper dive down a dark rabbit hole of a guy unhinged into conspiracies and removed from reality. On Facebook in late December 2020 Tyler talks about how he finds John Guandolo as a trusted source. Take a look at the screen shot below.
But the question must be asked, who is John Guandolo?
John Guandolo and His Background with the Marine Corps and the FBI
John Guandolo graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1989. He was then commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served with the 2nd Battalion 2d Marines as an Infantry Platoon Commander in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. From 1991 until 1996 he served as the 2d Force Reconnaissance Company as a Platoon Commander. During this time he deployed to the Adriatic and Bosnia. Guandolo was a combat diver, military free fall parachutist and graduate of U.S. Ranger School. In 1996 he resigned his Marine Corps commission and joined the FBI. He served in the Washington, D.C., Field Office. In 2001 he served as a FBI Liaison to the U.S. Capitol Police investigating threats against high-level United States government officials. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks he he was assigned to the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division of the D.C. Field Office. During this time he became known for his work on Muslim extremists, Islamic doctrine, Muslim Brotherhood, global Islamic movement, and terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Hamas and others. He was designated as a “Subject Matters Expert” in 2006 by the Bureau and implemented the FBI’s first Counterterrorism Training Program. He received an award for his work from Arizona Senator John Kyl and Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman.
Guandolo is Caught up in an FBI Scandal and Resigns in 2008
William Jefferson was a member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana. He served in the House from 1991 until January of 2009. Jefferson became the subject of a bribery investigation where he was selling his influence. The FBI raided his Congressional office in May of 2006. In 2009 he was tried in United States District Court of Virginia where he was found guilty of 11 of the 16 counts. What people remember most from the scandal is the Congressman’s freezer stuffed with money. According to RollCall Jefferson went to prison for five years and then released.
In 2009 as the case was scheduled to go to trial it was learned that one of the star witnesses, Lori Mody had a sexual relationship with John Guandolo who was the undercover FBI agent in the case. The FBI knew there were issues with Guandolo but allegedly kept that from the Department of Justice. The actions of Guandolo threatened to wreck the case by the FBI. According to the New Orleans main newspaper The Times-Picayune the court documents about the case were unsealed by the FBI in September of 2009. The FBI and its Office of Professional Responsibility knew at least as far back as last December that the agent, John Guandolo, “had had an intimate relationship with a confidential source that he thought could damage an investigation.” But they never passed that information to the U.S. attorney’s office prosecuting Jefferson or the lead FBI agent in the investigation. When the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility which was doing an investigation reached out to Guandolo he resigned from the Bureau on or about December 1, 2008. On June 7, 2009 Guandolo expressed “deep remorse” for his sexual relationship with a key government witness. The Department of Justice was forced to drop her as a witness. Meanwhile the attorney’s for Congressman Jefferson used the situation to try and have the case thrown out.
Islamophobia, Conspiracies, Ethical Issues and a Hero to Christian Nationalists
After John Guandolo resigned he founded a training organization called, “Understanding The Threat.” Its aim is to educate people about the threats jihadi Muslims pose and also communism and Marxist organizations inside the United States which are a threat to the country. A quick look at the organizations’ blog is jaw dropping when it comes to conspiracies and unhinged content. Here are a couple to show the issues of the website. The assault on the Capitol in January 6 is called the “Boston Massacre” by John Guandolo for Republicans failing to stand up to the rule of law. As a result the Comintern, which is the Communist International has now assumed power in the United States through Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Yes you read that correct.
But this blog is getting ahead of itself. The problems and issues with John Guandolo actually are long established. John started out teaching about radical Islam with police departments across the United States. People began to see problems with the material. In his lectures and teaching about Islam John Guandolo has taught a number of provocative things. For example he has taught that every Islamic Mosque is a base that Muslims train out of to assault the United States. Also said is that the Muslim Student Association is recruiting students for jihad. Al Jazeera which is a Middle East news network based out of Qatar did a series on Islamophobia in the United States and obtained some briefings that John Guandolo gave to the police in Arizona. It was known for his false teaching and was released to Buzzfeed and you can read about it here. But this issue with the Maricopa County Sherriff also occurred in 2014.
John Guandolo ran into legal trouble for an assault that took place at the National Sheriff’s Association meeting that took place in Reno, Nevada in 2017. Former Hennepin County, Minnesota Sherriff Richard Stanek saw issues with Guandolo’s presentation. He raised concerns about the content being inflammatory and “inappropriate” with the National Sherriff’s Association leadership. Guandolo then demanded a personal meeting the former Hennepin County Sherrif. As the meeting ended Guandolo reached out and punched Stanek and shoved him. Other people present had to intervene and drag him away from Stanek. The former Minnesota Sherriff filed a civil lawsuit in 2019 against Guandolo for $1 million dollars for medical expenses related to the assault. Since “Understanding The Threat” is based in Texas, the Dallas Morning News wrote about this lawsuit which you can read about here. In the end the case was decided in Stanek’s favor and he was awarded $600,000.
In his conspiracy theories John Guandolo has gone off the deep end. He claimed that John Brennan who would become the director for the CIA one day is a closeted Muslim who converted in Saudi Arabia when the Agency stationed him in country. You can read more about it in this Salon article. Snoopes has also been forced to address this issue as well. The Council of American-Islamic Relations has a dedicated page about the issues with John Guandolo. And he Southern Poverty Law Center which monitors hate groups has identified Guandolo’s Understanding The Threat as a hate group. Twitter has also banned “Understanding the Threat” for its conspiracy theories and disinformation.
Now in my research this is why John Guandolo is admired and followed by Christian nationalist. John is seen as fighting Sharia’ law and standing against Islam. In this paranoid view they think that Muslims line the border waiting to invade the United States and threaten Christians. Guandolo has also stated that Christians should be the preferred rulers and judges. What this means is that his view or brand of evangelicalism.
The rabbit hole with Tyler Ethridge is shocking. This is a guy who is not grounded in reality. From my perspective evidence appears to suggest that John Guandolo is mentally ill and should seek mental health counseling. How does someone fall so far? From the FBI to fringe websites? The more he has fallen down the rabbit hole of conspiracies the more removed from reality he seems to be. I can’t believe half of what I wrote about above is believed by some people. The fact that Tyler looks up at someone so discredited is shocking. The merger of faith and politics in this strain is stunning and leaves me beyond disappointed. How can you claim to follow God and worship in spirit and truth when you are drowning in conspiracy theories and hate? After spending some time reading some of this material it seems as if this Christian nationalist strain is very Islamophobic. They seem to have this deep fear of Muslims and their faith appears to be nothing but having fear. I still have a lot to work through with Tyler Ethridge and after today I wonder what I will be swimming in tomorrow. After reading about some of these Islamic conspiracy theories I feel like I need to take a shower.