- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - North and central Minnesota have become fertile ground for traveling speakers who have built national careers spreading alarm about the danger they say Islam poses in the U.S.

At dozens of rural churches and schools, speakers have warned crowds about refugees and called on them to be prepared to oppose Muslims in Minnesota, MPR News (http://bit.ly/2eOXXM7 ) reported. The events come at a time of mounting political tension over immigration ahead of the heated presidential election.

Former FBI agent John Guandolo is among those speakers, who travel all over the country talking to police groups and citizens.

Guandolo has made claims that refugees from Somalia, Syria and other Muslim countries intend wage holy war on the United States and overthrow the government and the justice system. He said Muslims buy gas stations and work in airports to pave the way for a violent takeover and tells audiences to prepare.

FBI officials in Minneapolis say Guandolo’s views don’t reflect the opinion of FBI counterterrorism experts.

Speaker Usama Dakdok has appeared in northern Minnesota over 20 times in just a year and a half, drawing hundreds of supporters.

“Islam is not a religion,” he said, earlier this month and called Islam a “savage cult,” and said for a Muslim to practice Islam in America is unconstitutional.

Dakdok’s talks in Minnesota have been met with protests from groups that consider what he says hate speech.

Dakdok recently spoke at the Oak Street Chapel in Brainerd. The church board resigned after fighting about whether he should’ve been invited.

According to Jaylani Hussein, director of the Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations, anti-Muslim speakers are a reflection of views that already exist within the community.

“These speakers don’t just arrive in a community,” Hussein said. “They are invited by a local group.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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