Patrick Boylan, a member of the state's board of education, brought out the Quran before 19 of the state's highest emergency responders.
"It says it right here. Do not take the infidels as your friends," he said, citing Sura 5:51. "I'm making statements straight from the Quran and these are what terrorists are using to justify terrorism." The topic of his lecture, "The terrorist mind-set, why do they hate us?" was part of a federally funded pilot master's degree program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Institute of Security Studies.
Its students, Bechtel Nevada employees, police officers and firefighters, are working to obtain an executive master of science in crisis and emergency management degree.
"I have studied the Quran for this very purpose to understand why they behave the way they do," said Boylan, an Irish Catholic, who grew up in Pakistan. "There is going to be a war on terrorism that is never going to stop, and Islam is behind it."
Boylan's lecture made more than a few students in the classroom shift in their seats as he said the Islamic religion advocates killing Christians and Jews.
"I have a little bit of a different opinion," Sheriff Bill Young said during a class break. "Historically, Muslims, particularly in our country, are good citizens."
Retired U.S. Army Col. Lee Van Arsdale, the institute's director, stood up during the class to offer a legal disclaimer that Boylan's views do not represent those of UNLV.
Boylan knows his views are controversial. He resided in Pakistan for the first 26 years of his life, where he said he saw firsthand discrimination and violence against non-Muslims.
"Non-Muslims have been discriminated against all over the world," he said. "We are in a battle of religion right now."
In Pakistan and other countries of Islamic rule, Christians are treated as second-class citizens and cannot obtain high-level positions in government, he told students.
"There are no non-Muslims that hold significant positions of power," he said.
His lecture was part of the 18-month degree program, which the school is funding through Department of Energy dollars earmarked for the institute. Boylan has a master's degree in educational leadership from UNLV.
Emergency practitioners from a variety of fields have taught parts of the course, aimed at preparing emergency responders to prevent terrorism attacks and deal with the consequences should one occur.
Dave Shephard, director of security at The Venetian, also spoke to the class earlier this month.
Several students made comments challenging Boylan's contention that Islam is behind terrorism, though many said the lecture sparked a needed discussion about the religion.
"I believe they love this country as much as most of us," Young said of the Muslims he knows in Las Vegas. "Maybe I'm so naive I take people at their word, but I don't get the feeling they hate me."
Boylan said the moderate Muslims, should they speak up, are drowned out by the radicals. He told students that obedience to a holy book which advocates subjugating, and in some cases killing, those who don't follow it will forever divide Muslims from non-Muslims.
"Those people who have taken (the Quran) to heart are doing (terrorism)," he said.
Americans tend to be too politically correct and are blind to the religious motivations behind terrorism, he said.
"There is a threat there and we need to wake up and find out how we can combat this," he said. "You cannot fight your enemy unless you know your enemy."