Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson announced the policy this past Friday at Aspen Institute's annual security forum in Washington, D.C. He explained that though it was a Muslim terrorist who shot to death four unarmed Marines in Tennessee two weeks ago, the government will call the attack, and other similar ones, "violent extremism" and not "Islamic terrorism" - out of respect for the Muslim community.
Johnson said it is "critical" to refrain from the "Islamic" label in order to "build trust" among Muslims.
The Tennessee murderer, Mohammad Abdulazeez, is officially a "homegrown violent extremist," according to the government – even though he blogged about his Islamic religious motivations for the attack. He and his family also attended a local mosque controlled by a terror-tied Islamic trust.
Johnson explained that if officials called Islamic terrorism "Islamic," they'd "get nowhere" in gaining the "cooperation" of the Muslim community.
The moderator of the panel tried to protest: "Isn't [the] government denying the fundamental religious component of this kind of extremism by not using the word Islamic?"
"I could not disagree more," Johnson responded, and explained that Islam "is about peace."
Responses to Johnson's remarks were fast and furious. The Clarion Project advanced two quick objections: "Putting aside the argument that to be able to fight the phenomenon of Islamic terror, one has to be able to name it," wrote Meira Svirsky, editor of ClarionProject.org, "it is plainly a strategy that has failed - primarily because the Muslims whom the government is trying to appease are the very ones supporting the same extremist ideology –Islamism -- that drives the terrorists."
In addition, an op-ed by Investor's Business Daily accused Johnson of failing to understand that the strategy is simply not working. The article notes that the FBI has warned that it can't keep up with all the homegrown Muslimterrorism cases cropping up now in every single one of the 50 states. Thearticle states that "pandering to local Muslim leaders" has failed to deliver where it is most needed: "U.S. Attorney Bill Killian helped dedicate [the Tennessee terrorist's] mosque at its grand opening in 2012, [and] even befriended its leader. Did [that leader] tip him off about Abdulazeez's radicalization? Did he stop him from driving down the street and opening fire on two military sites?"