According to the Associated Press, several federal agencies have adopted a known Muslim Brotherhood strategy, urging employees not to use terms including ‘jihad,’ ‘jihadist’ or ‘Islamic terrorist’ in describing Islamic terrorists based on the idea that this enhances their credibility. According to the AP report:
Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as “jihadists” or “mujahedeen,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like “Islamo-fascism” is out, too. The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates. For example, while Americans may understand “jihad” to mean “holy war,” it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, “mujahedeen,” which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context. U.S. officials may be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims,” says a Homeland Security report. It’s entitled “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.” “Regarding ‘jihad,’ even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world,” the report says.
The AP report goes on to discuss a similar report issued by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center that was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies,
Several previous posts have detailed efforts throughout the global Muslim Brotherhood to control the use of terms such as ‘jihad‘ and ‘Islamic terrorism.’ As another post discussed, these efforts appear to be part of a larger Muslim Brotherhood effort to steer the discussion of terrorism in directions favorable to their ideology. As that post noted, the Brotherhood public statements on Jihad are part of the network’s deception strategy:
2. DECEPTION- In order to defend Islam (Islamism) from charges that it is inherently violent/terroristic, the Brotherhood deceives the public about the nature of Jihad. This is necessary because Jihad plays an important role for Islamism and the Brotherhood and if the connection between Islam and violence is to be denied, Jihad must be explained away. Again, the Brotherhood represents the “Jihadism” of the Islamists as opposed to the “classical Jihad” of Islam but since that distinction is also lost on the public, the Brotherhood defends Jihad. It does so usually in one of two ways, sometimes employing both deceptions. First, the Brotherhood claims that Jihad has little or no connection to violence and warfare (i.e. there is no “Holy War”), and is instead akin to various forms of inner struggle or self-improvement. Second, the Brotherhood suggests that Jihad is a form of “freedom fighting”, even comparing Jihad to the American Revolution. Lately, there has been a suggestion that Jihad should be replaced with the term “Hirabah” which, if successful, would represent a victory for the Brotherhood deception strategy.
One example of such deception strategies in actions was provided by a Dutch academic in a discussion about the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, a Sunni group related to the Muslim Brotherhood:
Initially, the political platform of the Association was based not on Islam, but on universal rights mixed with nationalism—namely the natural right of every people, Muslim or non-Muslim, to resist occupation (ihtilal), as had been the case with the Vietnamese. As the right to defend oneself is a natural human right, Muhammad ‘Ayyash al-Kubaysi said in a December 2004 debate on al-Jazeera, it was not necessary to call for a jihad or issue a religious edict (fatwa) to sanction the Iraqi struggle for independence. Another reason for not adopting Islamic terminology was that it might scare off non-Muslims who feel outrage at the occupation of Iraq. Instead of the term “jihad,” the Association preferred the more neutral term “resistance” (muqawama), which it borrowed from Hamas.
The Brotherhood’s deception strategies have also been echoed by influential Western supporters such as Georgetown University academic John Esposito a former State Department Intelligence Analyst who, temporarily it seems, lost credibility after denigrating the Islamic terrorist threat prior to 911. The International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) has issued a report by a Pentagon analyst which has a discussion of what would appear to be the Brotherhood’s true views on Jihad.