The executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on Americans to cease calling terrorists “jihadists.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a history of Islamist extremism including links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. Justice Department labeled CAIR an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a Hamas-financing trial and listed CAIR as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity.
In addition, CAIR was officially designated a terrorist organization on by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on November 15, 2014.
Following the terrorist atrocity in Nice on Bastille Day (July 14) in which 84 people were killed by a man whom ISIS claimed as one of its soldiers, CAIR’s executive Director Nihad Awad sent out a tweet saying:
The hashtag he used, trying to argue that terrorism has nothing to do with an ideology of jihad, is very revealing.
Awad seems to want to separate the ideology of jihad, which is used by many groups to justify violence in their attempt to impose Islamist theocracy, from terrorist acts. This looks like an attempt to whitewash the ideology driving terrorism.
The Islamist groups that use some form of the doctrine of armed jihad include but are not limited to:
- The Islamic State (Syria and Iraq)
- Al-Qaeda (International)
- Al-Shabaab (Somalia, affiliated to Al-Qaeda)
- Boko Haram (Nigeria, affiliated to the Islamic State)
- Hezbollah (Lebanon)
- Hamas (Gaza)
- Islamic Jihad (Palestinian Territories)
- Gamaat Islamiya (Egypt)
- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (Phillipinnes)
- Abu Sayyaf (Philippines)
- Ansarullah Bangla Team (Bangladesh)
- Lashkar e-Taiba (Pakistan)
- The Taliban (Afghanistan, Pakistan)
Many of these groups are ideologically descended from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamist group that is the forerunner of many modern Islamist movements. Hamas is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nihad Awad himself was a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and was recorded at a 1993 meeting discussing how to support Hamas and the “goals, strategies and American perceptions of the Muslim Brotherhood” in the U.S.
Most religious or philosophical traditions have a concept of just war, and a rationale for what counts as just war. It is unreasonable to expect Islam to be the only major religion in which war is never considered justified.
But to argue that terrorist groups and terrorist attacks are not motivated by a more aggressive interpretation of jihad is simply disingenuous.
To refuse to use the term jihadist to describe these organizations or their fighters when they explicitly adhere to a doctrine of armed jihad would be inaccurate.
Not using the term “jihadist” would also make it harder to identify the ideological roots of terrorism. In the confusion, ordinary citizens who witness a barrage of terror attacks committed in the name of Islamist extremism may come to associate terrorism with the religion of Islam itself, rather than the armed jihadist wing of the broader global theocratic project of Islamism.
Surely Nihad Awad would not want that to happen.