DHS Secretary Won't Describe ISIS As 'Islamic' Terrorists

See the reason behind his statement.

ByMIKE LEVINE
July 23, 2015, 1:07 PM
PHOTO: This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.

Militant website/AP Photo

— -- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says that in order to keep ISIS from radicalizing Americans inside the United States, it is "critical” not to use the word “Islamic” when describing attacks or other actions tied to the terrorist group.

“[ISIS] would like to be referred to as ‘Islamic extremism’ because it therefore concedes that what they are saying and what they are doing occupies legitimately some form of Islam,” Johnson said today at a national security forum in Aspen, Colorado.

“The Muslims I know and that I’ve spent a lot of time with in this country believe just the opposite,” he added.

Rebuffing any suggestion that he’s being “politically correct,” Johnson said “building trust” with Muslim community leaders across the United States is “fundamental” to the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Johnson's comments come days after 24-year-old Mohammod Abdulazeez launched a deadly rampage against Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Federal investigators say he was apparently inspired by Al Qaeda ideology, but they are still looking for any evidence indicating he may have been inspired by ISIS as well.

Johnson has sat down with as many as 100 community members at a time – in meetings from Minneapolis to Maryland – to discuss how they can help identify and stop Americans like Abdulazeez from being radicalized by an onslaught of online ISIS propaganda in particular, the secretary said.

In each of those meetings, according to Johnson, he “consistently” hears this: “[ISIS] is trying to hijack my religion.”

“And so if you call it ‘Islamic anything,’ we are dignifying this terrorist organization with occupying a part of the Islamic faith which Muslims in this country I know push back very strongly on,” Johnson said. “If I went into these meetings calling it ‘Islamic extremism,’ I’d get nowhere.”

“I think it’s critical that in order to build our relationships and build our level of cooperation with the Islamic communities here, we have to say to them ‘Look, we understand that what this depraved terrorist organization is doing is no part of your religion,’” Johnson told those attending the Aspen Security Forum, which brings together some of the highest-ranking officials in counter-terrorism and intelligence from around the world.

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