What Unearthed Radio Recordings Tell Us About Steve Bannon's Worldview

Bannon made the remarks on his former radio show.

ByABC News
February 1, 2017, 12:27 PM

— -- Newly surfaced audiotapes of Steve Bannon, one of President Donald Trump's most influential advisers, offer a deeper look into his worldview.

In the recordings, Bannon, Trump's senior counsel and chief strategist and a former publisher of the far-right Breitbart News, mocked the idea that Islam is "a religion of peace" and suggested the U.S. is moving toward "a major shooting war in the Middle East again."

The tapes are from old broadcasts of the radio show "Breitbart News Daily."

Bannon left Breitbart after it was announced that he was joining the Trump campaign last August. USA Today first reported about the audiotapes.

Trump recently named Bannon as a permanent member of the National Security Council's Principals Committee — a decision that was criticized by former members of the NSC and other security experts.

In an interview over the weekend, Mike Morell, a former acting director of the CIA, called Bannon's appointment "unprecedented" in its political nature. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it a "departure from any National Security Council in history" and said the reorganization is "of concern."

Bannon's comments largely mirror the worldview expressed by Trump's National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who has said he considered himself "at war with Islam or a component of Islam" after years of military service. He also referred to the religion as "a cancer."

Below are some of the more notable comments made by Bannon. While the White House did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment, press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday defended Bannon's role on the NSC.

"He is a former Naval officer. He's got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now," Spicer said in an interview on "This Week."

Bannon Criticized Obama for Not Saying US is in a 'Global Existential War' Against Islam

In the later years of his presidency, Obama made a point to repeatedly reject the notion that the West was at war with Islam.

Critics on the right often targeted Obama's refusal to use the words "radical Islamic terrorism," while he defended his decision as calculated. He said he did not want to connect terrorist attacks with the peaceful faith practiced by more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.

Bannon responded on his Breitbart radio show in June 2016, saying, "Why is it that President Barack Hussein Obama — who went to Harvard Law School, went to Columbia University and has been hailed by the mainstream media as the brightest, most brilliant guy to ever sit in the White House — how can he not see that we're fighting a global existential war?"

Bannon went so far as to suggest that Obama's decision was part of a larger "willful blindness" in what might be part of a "fifth column" of individuals in the U.S. government and mainstream media who had interest in protecting an Islamist worldview.

George W. Bush 'One of the Dumbest Presidents' for Declaring Islam 'a Religion of Peace,' Bannon Said

In a May 2016 show, Bannon took former President George W. Bush to task for his decision in the days after 9/11 to visit a mosque and speak alongside Islamic leaders.

"The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam," Bush said. "That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war."

Bannon called Bush "one of the dumbest presidents in the history of these United States."

"He made the dumbest [comment] being that Islam is a religion of peace," Bannon said.

Predicted 'Chaos' in Europe Over Refugees Migrating to the Region

In April of 2016, at the height of the refugee crisis, Bannon expressed concerns about "absolute chaos" in Europe due to the arrival of millions of migrants.

His concerns were primarily about the ideologies of those coming from the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Syria and Libya, many of whom he claimed held religious views hostile to Western society. Bannon is considered one of the leading architects of a controversial executive order that has halted the U.S. refugee resettlement program and instituted a temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

"These are not people with thousands of years of understanding democracy in their DNA coming up here," Bannon said.

He told his radio audience in December 2015 that "over half" of Muslims in the Middle East believe in Sharia.

"I think that most people in the Middle East, at least 50 percent, believe in being Sharia-compliant," Bannon said. "One of the issues we have in Garland, Texas, is trying to stop these Sharia courts."

He was referring to the debunked claim that Islamist groups were trying to establish Sharia courts in Garland; they were setting up Islamic tribunals, or mediation groups. The claim earned the distinction of The Houston Chronicle's "2015 Texas hoax of the year."

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