Photo Credit: Courtesy Aaron Klein
Aaron Klein

McMaster Says Islam Is Not Behind Muslim Terror

In a 2014 speech on the Middle East unearthed by this reporter, embattled White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster claimed that Islamic terrorist organizations are “really un-Islamic” and are “really irreligious organizations” who cloak themselves in the “false legitimacy of Islam.”


McMaster’s comments represent views of Islamic terrorism that are diametrically opposed to those espoused by President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly utilized the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

McMaster, who serves in a critical national security position, seems to be minimizing the central religious motivations of radical Islamic terrorist groups who are waging a religious war against Western civilization. Indeed, in his speech, McMaster urged the audience to focus on the “human factors” that he said drive conflict while downplaying any religious motivation.

Shia and Sunni Islamic terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and the Islamic State each openly espouse Islamic motivations, repeatedly cite the Koran, and claim they are fighting a religious war. Some of the Sunni groups are violent offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to create a global Islamic caliphate.

Osama bin Laden, the founder of al Qaeda, infamously cited Koranic scripture and was heavily influenced by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, ideologue, and Islamic theorist Sayyid Qatb, considered the Brotherhood’s intellectual godfather. Writing in the New York Times magazine in 2003, author Paul Berman dissected the Koranic origins of Qatb’s book Milestones – utilized by bin Laden as a sort of religious guidebook – as being drawn from Qatb’s massive commentary on the Koran, titled In the Shade of the Qur’an.

Hamas’s original charter repeatedly cites the Koran and other mainstream Islamic texts. In March, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, claimed that “removing the Jews from the land they occupied in 1948 is an immutable principle because it appears in the Book of Allah.” Zahar was referring to the entire state of Israel.

While there are legitimate arguments about how much these terrorist groups in some cases may utilize an extremist interpretation of Islam, McMaster is clearly downplaying the transparent religious motivations of America’s terrorism enemies.


More On McMaster

In a speech following Israel’s defensive 2014 war against the Hamas terrorist group, embattled White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster sidestepped a question about whether the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted itself in an ethical manner, instead providing what McMaster admitted was a “non-answer.”

The IDF is known to go to extreme lengths to operate ethically and protect civilians when fighting Palestinian jihadists who use civilians as human shields, launch rocket attacks from civilian zones, and house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas.

At a December 4, 2014 speech to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, an audience member asked McMaster a direct question about the ethics of the IDF’s conduct in that year’s war against Hamas and in other wars.

McMaster was asked: “Firstly, would you consider the IDF conduct of the recent war and prior wars as a template for the ethical conduct of war?”

Here is a transcript of McMaster’s reply, which he admitted was a “non-answer”:

Okay. So quickly on that, in terms of the IDF actions and how to evaluate them, I think you could evaluate them based on jus ad bellum sort of criteria of proportionality and distinction and so forth. I’m not the best judge of it. I’ve been following it in the media. I can’t really tell. I do know that they’re responding to attacks.

What you’re asking is, was the response proportional? Now, there’s different kinds of proportionality. There’s proportionality in war, and then there’s a broader sort of humanitarian standard that I think, at times, doesn’t apply as a complete transfer over to wartime situations. So that’s kind of a non-answer, sorry, to your first question.

A defender of Israel or even an objective observer would have noted that Israel goes beyond what almost any other country does to protect civilians and that the IDF is one of the most ethical militaries in the world. The IDF operates under the guidelines of international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict, and imposes its own, even stricter codes.

The IDF regularly warns those in civilian areas of incoming attacks with phone calls and text messages even though the terrorist targets will likely also learn about the warning. It employs “roof knocking” – or firing warning shots before any aerial bombing where civilians may be present. If civilians still don’t evacuate, the Israeli army many times makes announcements on loudspeakers. In the 2014 war, the IDF called off numerous military raids because civilians were in the way.

Despite its enormous firepower, the IDF severely restrains itself in order to minimize civilian casualties. To protect Palestinian civilians, the IDF has many times risked the lives of its own soldiers on house-to-house missions and other urban combat instead of using aerial power.

Last week, this reporter broke the highly cited story that McMaster served at a UK-based think tank financed by a controversial, George Soros-funded group identified by the Obama White House as central in helping to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media.

From September 2006 to February 2017, McMaster was listed as a member of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), where he served as consulting senior fellow. The IISS describes itself as a “world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.”

Breitbart also reported that IISS is bankrolled by multinational corporate firms doing billions of dollars in business in Iran. And IISS quietly took in about $32.5 million in funding from Bahrain, a country whose constitution explicitly enshrines Sharia Islamic law as its governing doctrine, Breitbart News documented.

The funding from Bahrain, a repressive regime with a dismal human rights track record but also an important regional U.S. ally, reportedly amounted to one quarter of the think tank’s total income.