26 Mar 2015
When the issue of radical Islam and terror is raised,
the Obama administration denies that there is any real connection between the
two. Much of the rest of the world, however, has left that approach behind, the
Washington Times reported Thursday.
Within the administration, CIA Director John Brennan
has long been among the most forceful of the deniers. At a Council on Foreign
Relations forum earlier this month, Brennan said he was "amused" by
the focus on what label President Obama and his aides used to refer to the
Islamic State (ISIS) and other Islamist terror groups.
Using terminology such as "Muslim terrorism"
and "Islamic extremism," Brennan said, disregards the reality that terrorism
"is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims
throughout the world" actually believe.
Mentioning Islam in connection with terrorism
"plays into the enemy's hands" and "really does give them
[terrorists] the type of Islamic legitimacy that they are so desperately
seeking, but which they don't deserve at all," he added.
The terrorists are "criminals," Brennan
said. "Many of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers, who use a religious
concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct. And I
do think it does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious
moniker to them."
This approach, however, has left the United States
increasingly isolated from many of its closest allies that have no such
reluctance about discussing the subject.
British Home Secretary Theresa May on Monday announced
a get-tough policy aimed at combating "Islamist extremists."
May declared that the new measures include the power
to close sites "that are owned or occupied by extremists or are used to
host extremist meetings or speakers." Her comments were widely interpreted
as targeting mosques and Islamic centers that foment intolerance and violence.
May also announced new scrutiny of religious figures
seeking to enter Britain and a requirement that they speak English when
speaking to followers. The new policy would bar radicals from working
unsupervised with children out of concern that jihadists would try to brainwash
"Islamist extremists believe in a clash of civilizations,"
Ms. May said. "They promote a fundamental incompatibility between Islamic
and Western values, an inevitable divide between 'them and us.' They demand a
caliphate, or a new Islamic state, governed by a harsh interpretation of Sharia
law. They utterly reject British and Western values, including democracy"
and "believe that it's impossible to be a good Muslim and a good British
The policies would take effect if a new Conservative
Party-dominated government is elected in May.
In France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told The Wall
Street Journal last month that France has been hit by "jihadist terrorism
and radical Islamism," emphasizing that it is important to "call
things like they are."
A growing number of Muslim allies of the United States
have also rejected the Obama/Brennan approach of denying radical Islam's role
in fomenting violence.
In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced
this week that he is expanding a campaign to urge the nation's Muslim leaders
to purge an extremist ideology from its ranks. In January, Sisi called publicly
for a "religious revolution" in Egypt to purge al-Qaida and ISIS from
In a speech to a joint session of Congress on
Wednesday, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani urged public officials and
leaders in Muslim-majority countries to condemn jihadist groups such as ISIS.
"Silence is not acceptable," he declared.
In Tunisia, the Religious Affairs Ministry disclosed
earlier this month that 149 mosques have been seized by militant Salafist Muslims.
In 2011, the Salafists seized scores of mosques from more moderate imams.
Officials said that since the ouster of Tunisia's
secular strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, more than 1,000
mosques in that country had been taken over by radicals.