White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested that President Trump may abandon the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in a scheduled speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
“The president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But I think it’s important that, whatever we call it, we recognize that [extremists] are not religious people. And, in fact, these enemies of all civilizations, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under this fall idea of some kind of religious war.”
“But I think what the president will point out is the vast majority – the vast majority of victims from these people are Muslims. And of course the Muslim world is very cognizant of that, having born witness to and experienced directly this humanitarian catastrophe that’s going on across the greater Middle East and beyond.”
Trump frequently used the phrase “radical Islamic terror” on the campaign trail to describe Islamist extremists and militant groups. But the term has historically been avoided by presidents, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In fact, McMaster himself has urged the president to refrain from using the phrase, arguing that violent extremists, such as ISIS militants, push a perverse view of Islam and that the phrase “radical Islamic terror” ultimately hinders U.S. goals, according to CNN.
In his speech on Sunday, Trump is expected to cast the fight against extremism as a “battle between good and evil,” rather than a religious war, while calling for unity with allies in the Islamic world.