In a striking departure from the Obama administration, which sought to downplay the role of Islam in terrorism, the Trump administration is naming “radical Islamist” groups at the “principal terrorist enemies.”
The new National Strategy for Counterterrorism of the United States of America plainly states in its opening paragraph: “Our principal terrorist enemies are radical Islamist terrorist groups that seek to conduct attacks globally, violate our borders, and radicalize and recruit potential extremists within the United States and abroad.”
In an introductory letter accompanying the strategy, the president explains it “sets forth a new approach.”
“We will protect our homeland, our interests overseas, and our allies and partners,” he said. “We will defeat radical Islamist terrorists such as ISIS and al-Qaida, expand our agile counterterrorism toolkit to prevent future terrorist threats, deter emerging threats, roll back Iran’s global terrorism network, and ensure our country’s continued safety. Now, and in the future, we will secure our nation and prevail against terrorism.”
The report points out that the U.S., working with its allies, already has “liberated nearly all of the territory once controlled by the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.”
But many challenges remain, especially in preventing terrorists “from exploiting new technologies in today’s dynamic information environment.”
The report states, “We are a nation at war – and it is a war that the United States will win.”
The Washington Free Beacon called it a “significant departure” from Obama’s practice, which “implemented a series of policies aimed at deemphasizing the threat of Islamic terror groups.”
“While the Obama administration sought to dampen the United States’ focus on Islamic terror threats, the Trump administration has made this battle the centerpiece of its new strategy,” the report said.
National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters this week that it was a big change from the previous administration, whose practices have been “characterized as a failure by Republican foreign policy voices due to the increasing number of domestic terror attacks and plots across the United States.”
“The fact is the radical Islamic threat that we face is a form of ideology,” Bolton said. “This should not be anything new to anybody. King Abdullah of Jordan has frequently described the terrorist threat as a civil war within Islam that Muslims around the world recognize, and he is, after all, a direct descendent of the Sharif … the keepers of the holy cities. If that’s how King Abdullah views it, I don’t think anybody should be surprised we see it as a kind of war, as well.”
Iran also is brought to the front of the conflict, with the characterization of the rogue Islamic regime as “the foremost state sponsor of terror across the globe.”
“The United States faces terrorist threats from Iran, which remains the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism that, really, the world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979,” Bolton said. “And from other terrorist groups. Iran-sponsored terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic jihad, continue to pose a threat to the United States and our interests.”
The report explains the the ultimate objective is that “the terrorist threat to the United States is eliminated.”
The plan is not just to kill individual terrorists, but to eliminate their capacity to attack, cut off their support, shut down their “ability to radicalize, recruit and mobilize to violence,” remove any ability to use Weapons of Mass Destruction and protect Americans.
The chapter of “The Terrorist Adversary” focuses significantly on radical Muslims
They remain the “primary transnational terrorist threat” because they have set up state-like institutions, deployed “sophisticated explosive devices” and used “high-quality media products to recruit.”
“It is … critical that the United States counterterrorism posture be agile enough to adapt as well,” the report said. “Radical Islamist terrorists have a violent extremist ideology that serves to create a common identity and sense of purpose for those susceptible to its core message. This vile ideology is used to indoctrinate new recruits to accept terrorist groups’ goals and directives without question, and also allows these groups to maintain cohesion, ensure conformity, and justify the use of violence to meet the ideology’s goals.”
The report calls it a “shift” in America’s approach.
“We will relentlessly pursue those terrorists that seek to harm our country and remain vigilant and vigorous in our prevention of attacks. We will not yield to adversaries who attack us with bombs, bullets, or propaganda. We will rise to every challenge, face the enemy on every front, and ensure a future of peace, security, and prosperity for our country and the world,” the report states.