Tom Trento is a wingnut’s wingnut and, as such, of course a serious conspiracy theorist. Trento is director of the anti-“Shariah Islam” group The United West and sees the threat of creeping sharia and Muslim conspiracies virtually everywhere. So for instance, Trento saw strong connections, existing exclusively in his own mind, between the Occupy Wall Street movement and jihadists, claiming in particular that Occupy Orlando was a “move by a Muslim activist to take over control of ‘Occupy Orlando,’ in the ‘spirit of the Arab Spring.’” Trento warned especially about Shayan Elahi, a local Democratic activist, Muslim civil-rights attorney and legal counsel for Occupy Orlando, whom Trento says is “associated with CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood” because that’s how information about Elahi is filed in Trento’s paranoid mess of a mind, or: “Once we watched Shayan Elahi in action, running around, signing up speakers, providing direction, telling people what to do, we started to connect the dots to the stated Face Book Mission Statement of ‘Occupy Orlando,’ which reads, ‘…we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America.’” Yes, there are some dots to be connected here, but the resulting picture isn’t exactly flattering to Tom Trento. Trento’s claims were, however, picked up and promoted e.g. by failed Senate candidate Joe Miller.
Meanwhile, Trento has promoted the wingnut conspiracy theories of John Guandolo, including the claim that John Brennan is a Muslim convert, as well as the “independent journalism” of Laura Loomer. He is also the one-time National Security Chairman for the Tea Party National Convention. He did not do a more reasonable figure in that position. (He has in general, not unexpectedly, exhibited some trouble when it comes to drawing simple distinctions about politics).
United West (UW) is recognized as an active hate group in the United States by the SPLC and its core mission is to advocate for laws “to halt the expansion of Shariah law in the USA and other Free Nations,” something that for Trento includes treating accused terrorists who cite Islamic religious beliefs as their rationale as military combatants. UW has also called for cutting UN funding for programs that assist Palestine refugees and has tried to dissuade voters from casting ballots for Muslims who pursue elected office in the United States.
Previously, in the early 1990s, Trento headed a Denver-based outfit called Christian Research Associates (CRA), which peddled “young earth creation science” in the Rocky Mountain states and worked to restrict poor women’s access to abortion.
Diagnosis: Deranged extremist who is clearly willing to subvert evidence, reason and democratic processes to reshape the US in his preferred image – it is not entirely unreasonable to suspect that part of what’s driving the paranoia of creeping-sharia conspiracy theorist is a certain sympathy with the political means and systems they associate, by projection, with their perceived opponents. Trento has plenty of supporters, connections and donors, however, and should not be overlooked