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As Obama era looms, Gates drops 'Islamist' from characterization of terrorism

Sunday, October 26, 2008 Free Headline Alerts


Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week referred to Islamist terrorism by the politically-correct term “violent extremism” during a speech to the U.S. Institute of Peace. The use of the non-Islamist terminology highlights the ongoing debate in government over the use of terms like jihad and Islamic extremism in public discussions of terrorism.

Gates said Oct. 15 that “in violent extremism, we face an adversary today that seeks to eject all Westerners and Western influence from the Middle East and Southwest Asia, to destroy Israel and overthrow all secular and Western-oriented governments in the region.”

In a second reference, he said “the long reach of violent extremism emanating from failed and failing states, from ungoverned spaces brought terror to America's shores and subsequently brought America and our allies to Afghanistan.”

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security recently issued guidelines for U.S. government officials that said American Muslim groups had recommended not using “jihad” or Islamic extremism in labeling Muslim extremist violence in order not to offend Muslims.

A U.S. Central Command Red Team of experts however, stated in a recent report that honest reports require labeling the terrorists as Islamic and jihadist since the roots of the violence lie in Islamic law. The controversial report called for “freedom of speech in jihad analysis” and sought to debunk the State and DHS reports claiming that the use of Islamic terms in describing terrorists was offensive speech and was opposed by some U.S. Muslim groups.

Several Democrats in recent weeks have said Gates should stay on if Barack Obama wins the presidential election, an appeal that has not been rejected by Gates, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

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