Briefly, you probably already know that the State Department approved the change in terminology recommended by the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), which in turn was based on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.”
Yesterday, Jeffrey Imm, at Counterterrorism Blog, notes the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, released this week, wasn’t updated to reflect the new lexicon.
In the April 2008 State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 released today, anyone can clearly see the use of the terms “jihad”, “jihadist”, “jihadi”, “mujahedin / mujahadin”, “caliphate”, “Islamist” — as nouns describing enemy terrorist activity and ideology (not just in the titles of Jihadist groups’ names).
Such usage can been easily found in the Microsoft Word version of the State Department report:
– “jihad”: pages 63, 75, 81, 107, 126, 127, 174, 187, 272
– “jihadi(s)”: pages 10, 93, 94, 103, 107, 122
– “jihadist”: pages 116, 117, 120, 121
– “Islamist”: pages 17, 52, 62, 75, 87, 93, 95, 122, 188, 271, 291
These references are clearly describing State Department counterterrorist analyst descriptions of enemy terrorist individuals, activity, and ideology. For example, such phrases in the annual State Department terror report as: “promoting jihad and recruiting potential suicide bombers” (p. 75), “a recruitment network for foreign jihadis” (p. 93), “recruiting jihadists to fight” (p. 117), “numerous cells dedicated to sending Jihadi fighters” (p. 122), “AQ leadership has called for jihad against UN forces” (p. 174) — don’t sound like a view of “jihad” as a “spiritual struggle”.
Moreover, in President Bush’s April 28 press conference, he referred to the enemy as “jihadists” – to an assembled press corps that never asked him a single question about the remark.
In last week’s reported NCTC memorandum and DHS report on the proper terminology in describing the enemy, the NCTC is quoted stating that “[n]ever use the terms ‘jihadist’ or ‘mujahedeen’ in conversation to describe the terrorists…calling our enemies ‘jihadis’ and their movement a global ‘jihad’ unintentionally legitimizes their actions.” As described in last week’s article on this subject, I pointed out that this viewpoint challenges many of the key passages in the 9/11 Commission Report.
This raises a (humorous) question that Imm asks:
Does the NCTC and DHS now think that the State Department and President Bush are “legitimizing” the actions of the enemy by using such terms?
Why is this humorous? A motivating factor behind Smith-Mundt was the fear that the State Department would undermine the President and the United States by being too soft or even sympathetic to the enemy propaganda. Between this example, which is somewhat excusable for reasons of the bureaucracy but still should have been prevented, and Senator Tom Coburn preventing the confirmation of Jim Glassman as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is it any wonder we need to revisit Smith-Mundt? So much of what brought about the Act sixty years ago is repeating itself today.
I recommend reading Jeffrey Imm’s whole post, The Continuing Debate Over “Jihadists” As The Enemy, that includes a discussion on why nouns and verbs are so important. See also Jim Giurard’s post on the same here.
(H/T Steve at COMOPS)