CIA Director John Brennan refused to refer to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group as an “Islamic” terrorist organization in a Friday speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, repeating White House rhetoric.
The CIA Director assured the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that ISIS represents an ideology that’s “inconsistent” with Islam.
A CBS reporter asked Brennan why the administration has been so “reluctant” to identify Islamic extremism as the root ideology of jihadist groups in the Muslim-majority world.
“The people who carry out acts of terrorism, whether it be Al Qaeda, [ISIL], are doing it because they believe it is consistent with what their view of Islam is,” said the CIA Director. “It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world.”
“By ascribing it as a Muslim terrorism or Islamic extremism — I think it does really give them the type of Islamic legitimacy that they are so desperately seeking, but which they don’t deserve at all,” Brennan added. “They are terrorists, they’re criminals. Many of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers, who use a religious concept and masquerade, mask themselves, in that religious construct.
“It does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious moniker to [ISIS]. The Muslims I know… The people I’ve worked with throughout the Middle East most of my career find just disgraceful that these individuals present themselves as Muslims.
“The words we use can have resonance. What they do has no basis in any upstanding religions.”
It remains unclear how well-versed Brennan is with Islam itself, as he has no background in Islamic theology.
But he has shown himself to be a close admirer of the religion.
In 2010, Brennan gave a speech in which he enthusiastically raved about Islam. He is also fluent in Arabic, the language of the Koran. In the speech, Brennan said that he has “learned about the goodness and beauty of Islam.” He also referred to the city of Jerusalem as Al Quds, which could be interpreted as disrespecting the state of Israel by seemingly disregarding the well-documented Jewish presence in the ancient city.