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OUR OWN WORST ENEMY

FROM HIS CLUMSY COMMENTS TO THE TRAVEL BAN, DONALD TRUMP IS GIVING JIHADIS WHAT THEY WANT

THE JIHADIS SHOOT their propaganda across the internet in search of the Western world’s frightened and dispossessed. On Twitter and Facebook, from YouTube to Google Play, the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) traics in lies, bombarding Western Muslims seeking adventure, compatriots or an outlet for their religious fervor.

The message is stark, terrifying: Your countries hate you. They despise your beliefs. They seek to destroy your faith and convert you to theirs. Your safety, your obligation to true Muslims, is to join the camp of Islam, the caliphate, and take up arms against the inidels.

Since the horrors of 9/11, American presidents operating under the advice of the intelligence community’s counter-terrorism experts have understood that countering this propaganda has been among the most essential parts of the fight against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other murderous jihadi extremists. Through carefully selected language and—for the most part— considered policy, the United States has worked to expose the lies and convince young Muslims drawn by the propaganda toward hate that they are welcome and appreciated in America.

That era appears to be over. President Donald Trump, in office for less than two months, has gutted the strategy used by Republicans and Democrats alike—out of ignorance, hubris or both—sending a new message from the White House, one that reinforces the jihadi extremists’ propaganda and increases the likelihood that more Americans will die in attacks.

“IF THERE WAS A SCRIPTWRITER FOR ISIS, HE COULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN A BETTER SCRIPT THAN WHAT IS COMING OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE.”

“If there was a scriptwriter for ISIS, he could not have written a better script than what is coming out of the White House,’’ said M. Ehsan Ahrari, a professor of national security and strategy at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College. “Since President Trump came into office, he has been going out of his way to make statements and decisions that are hurting America’s cause.”

The intricacies of fighting against jihadi attacks are complex. They involve military, cultural, linguistic, pattern recognition, social media and counter-propaganda skills, and they cannot be learned in a few days or by watching cable television. What might seem logical to the uninformed horriies the experts who have spent years, even decades, trying to learn what drives jihadi movements and how best to reduce the danger of attacks. Ideas formed based on uneducated surmises, particularly those by people with poor knowledge of Islam, can backfire horribly. American leaders would never have taken the country into war against the Nazis without a comprehensive analysis of Hitler, his fascist ideology and its role in German nationalism. But in a matter of weeks, Trump has shown a willingness to follow a similar course: make reckless actions that sound like common sense and lead his supporters to cheer, while exposing America to a greater danger from attacks than it faced before he entered the Oval Office.

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About Newsweek International

TERROR THREAT: HOW TRUMP IS FUELLING JIHAD Since the horrors of 9/11, American presidents operating under the advice of the intelligence community’s counter terrorism experts have understood that countering this propaganda has been among the most essential parts of the fight against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other murderous Jihadi extremists. Through carefully selected language and for the most part considered policy, the United States has worked to expose the lies and convince young Muslims drawn by the propaganda toward hate that they are welcome and appreciated in America. That era appears to be over. President Donald Trump, in office for less than two months, has gutted the strategy used by Republicans and Democrats alike out of ignorance, hubris or both, sending a new message from the White House, one that reinforces the Jihadi extremists’ propaganda and increases the likelihood that more Americans will die in attacks.
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