Roy White, a 62-year-old Air Force veteran heads the San Antonio, Texas chapter of ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim organization that was founded on the grounds of protecting the United States from Islam. The group has direct ties to the Trump White House, the Chicago Tribune reports.
White has described Muslim civil rights groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as "jihadist." He said, "They're jihadists wearing suits. That's a tough thing for us to wrap our heads around because we don't feel threatened."
According to ACT's founder Brigitte Gabriel, the group has 500,000 "relentless grass-roots warriors ready to do whatever it takes to achieve our goal of a safer America." In this case, a safer America involves the eradication of Islam.
Gabriel also has direct ties to the White House, specifically to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon himself has referred to Islam as a "barbarity" bringing darkness to Europe. Gabriel has published a number of anti-Muslim articles with Breitbart, which Bannon used to head.
Trump's CIA Director Mike Pompeo also has ties to the ACT group. Pompeo, similarly to Bannon, has depicted the Global War on Terror as a holy war between "radical Muslims" and Christianity. In 2015, Pompeo spoke at a rally at an evangelical church specialized in fighting "Satanism and paranormal activity" in Kansas. His speech touched on what he described as the "struggle against radical Islam," noting that "evil is all around us."
Pompeo has spoken at ACT conferences and also sponsored a meeting that the group held at the Capitol last year. Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned earlier this week, also sits on ACT's advisory board. Though Flynn no longer has a spot in the Trump administration, the ties remain concrete.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ACT for America is the largest anti-Muslim group in the U.S. with 280,000 members and more than 1,000 chapters across the country. SPLC has also listed the organization as an anti-Muslim extremist group.
On Feb. 15, 2017, the SPLC released a report that revealed a striking rise in hate groups across the country. "The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump," the report notes. According to the report, anti-Muslim groups saw the most dramatic increase, "from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year."
Ahmed Bedier, who formerly chaired the CAIR's Tampa chapter, described ACT members as "fascists." Bedier said, "These guys are the fringe of the fringe, and now they have people on the inside of the most powerful government in the world. They're fascists. They don't want any presence of Muslims in America. And the only Muslim that is acceptable to them is a former Muslim."