Islam & terrorismU.S. fight against extremism, terrorism hobbled by Obama’s qualms about using the term “Islamist”: Critics
On 18 February the White House will host a global summit on “Countering Violent Extremism.” Critics say that the title of the summit captures a disturbing aspect of the administration’s efforts to counter terrorism: The preference for using anodyne language about the nature of the challenge rather than calling it for what it is – terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists, or, even more sweepingly, Islamist-fueled terrorism.The administration’s reluctance is not merely a problem of nomenclature, a refusal to employ terminology which may be overly broad or which might be offensive to some, says one critic. Rather, it evinces a lack of strategic focus, weakening the U.S. hand in the fight and undermining efforts to counter Islamist extremists and their supporters.
Next month, on 18 February, the White House will host a summit on efforts to counter violent extremism. Attendees will include law enforcement and counterterrorism officials as well as representatives from U.S. cities and other countries who have had to battle Islamic extremism. The main objective is to “better understand, identify and prevent the cycle of radicalization to violence at home in the United States and abroad,” the White House wrote in a statement.
The summit will also review domestic and international efforts to prevent extremists and their supporters from recruiting others to carry out acts of violence. “This is the issue of our time,” said Farah Pandith, a former special representative to Muslim communities who was appointed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Thirteen years after 9/11, we know a lot about it,” she said, referring to the recruitment of young people to be terrorists as well as who the primary supporters of recruitment efforts are.
Counterterrorism analysts say Saudi Arabia, and wealthy individuals and charities in the Gulf States are funding many Islamic extremist efforts by spending billions on gleaming mosques, well-equipped madrassas, and well-trained imams who relentlessly and systematically promote Wahhabism, the most fundamentalist and rigid form of Islam, in Muslim countries in Asia and Africa, and in Muslim communities in Europe and elsewhere in the word.
“It’s mind-blowing, the money to build shiny new mosques with a particular viewpoint,” Pandith told the Daily Beast.
Announcement of the summit comes a week after the Paris terror attacks by Islamic extremists, but the White House has made a point not to refer to the February summit as an anti-terrorism or anti-Islamic extremism event. The White House has also refused to label the Paris attacks as acts of “radical Islam.” The administration believes using the term “Islam” in describing the acts would grant legitimacy to the attackers, who, they believe, are not true representatives of Islam.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a position where I’m repeating the justification they have cited that I think is illegitimate. They had invoked Islam to justify their attacks,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier this week. “I think what I’m trying to do is to describe to you what happened and what they did. These individuals are terrorists. … We have chosen not to use that label (of radical Islam) because it doesn’t seem to accurately describe what happened.”