U.S. Officials Urged to Avoid Linking Islam, Jihad with Terrorism

May 6, 2008


Source: United Press International


U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedin, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism.

"There's a growing consensus (in the administration) that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue.

Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counter-Terrorism Center, the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the U.S. war on terrorism, officials are urged to use terms like violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al-Qaida and other terror groups.

"Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that al-Qaida promotes," reads "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center.

"You have a large percentage of the world's population that subscribes to this religion," noted the former official. "Unintentionally alienating them is not a judicious move."