Trump refers to 'radical Islamic terrorism' despite NSC pushback

National security adviser hopens to soften Trump


Published 02/28 2017 08:47PM

Updated 02/28 2017 08:47PM

President Donald Trump warned of "radical Islamic terrorism" in his address to Congress Tuesday night -- despite pushback from his national security adviser.

Newly minted national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster urged Trump to leave the reference to "radical Islamic terrorism" out of the speech, according to a senior administration official. The two men had a discussion about it but Trump decided he would do it anyway.

The senior administration official added that McMaster still hopes to persuade Trump to soften his rhetoric on the issue in the days to come.

This was not a clash, the official said, but a discussion.

In the end, Trump told Congress Tuesday evening: "We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism." He then spoke of the threat of violent extremists coming from overseas, citing attacks perpetrated in the US and Europe.

CNN reported that at a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, McMaster warned against using the term, frequently uttered by Trump.

McMaster's argument was that militants, like members of ISIS, are not representative of Islam and that the term "radical Islamic terrorism" alienates Muslims the US needs to work with to defeat the ideology behind groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

Trump regularly mentioned the phrase on the campaign trail and criticized former President Barack Obama for not using the term.

"Unless you're going to say that, you're never going to solve it," Trump said last summer.

Obama said at a CNN town hall in the fall that he was avoiding drawing a commonality between the tiny fraction of people with Muslim backgrounds who perform reprehensible acts and the billion-plus peaceful Muslims around the planet.

"If you had an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up and said, 'We're on the vanguard of Christianity,' as a Christian, I'm not going to let them claim my religion and say, 'You're killing for Christ.' I would say, 'That's ridiculous,' " Obama said.

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