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A speaker at a Homeland Security conference in Rapid City whose remarks about Muslims sparked controversy earlier this month was paid $5,000 plus expenses for his appearance.

The Rapid City Journal originally requested the fee amount immediately after the May 11 event, but Alexa White, assistant coordinator of Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management, denied the request. The Journal subsequently filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act with White, who released the fee information May 19.

The speaker, Walid Shoebat, is an author and professional speaker who says he is a former terrorist in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Now converted to Christianity, Shoebat says that terrorism is inherent in Islam.

His appearance at a state-sponsored conference attended by law enforcement was criticized by local Muslims and by national organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Shoebat spoke at the 2011 South Dakota Homeland Security Conference in Rapid City on May 11. He also spoke at the South Dakota Homeland Security Conference the previous year.

Shoebat was one of six paid speakers at the conference, which also included numerous South Dakota speakers who were not paid honorariums.

The other paid speakers were:

  • John Sileo, an expert on information security and identity theft, paid $8,750, including expenses
  • Michael Dorn, an expert on school security and bullying, paid $5,000 plus expenses
  • Chris Dorn, also a school security expert, paid $2,500 plus expenses
  • Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, an expert in criminal psychology, paid $5,500 plus expenses
  • Rich Gasaway, who spoke on first responses to disasters, paid $4,500 plus expenses

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The amount paid comes to $31,250. The conference also paid for travel expenses and hotel rooms.

The money for the honorariums came from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Contact David Montgomery at 394-8329 or

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