Gorka: ‘Most Important’ Part Of Trump Speech Is Phrase ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’

In case anyone was unsure, White House aide Sebastian Gorka emphasized Tuesday that the Trump administration’s foreign policy will remain filtered through the lens of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

The President’s one line on the subject during his speech to a joint session of Congress was the “most important” takeaway, Gorka told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor and self-styled counterterrorism expert whose resume and hardline views on Islam have been subject to withering criticism, dismissed reports that new National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told staffers the phrase was counterproductive and shouldn’t be used.

“What happened tonight?” Gorka asked.

“They expected us to dilute the verbiage. He said radical Islamic terrorism,” he went on, pausing between words for emphasis. “Politico, did you hear it? New York Times, did you hear it? Washington Post, CNN did you hear it? The president is not backing down.”

Gorka was similarly strident in a Wednesday interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition,” calling the phrase “the clearest three words of his speech.”

“The enemy is radical jihadist terrorism and that has not changed and it will not change,” he said.

Gorka told NPR host Steve Inskeep that McMaster had been talking to staff about the Islamic State “specifically.” He said that, contrary to reports, McMaster never instructed his team at the National Security Council to avoid using the phrase out of concern it undermines relationships with Muslim allies.

“Our point is a broader one; it’s not just about specific threat groups doing specific crimes,” he said. “It’s about a global movement that I like to call global jihadism and which the President is clear on.”

The White House aide declined, again, to comment on whether the President sees Islam as a religion, saying “This is not a theological seminary; this is the White House.”

“The bottom line question, of course, is is Islam itself the enemy here?” Inskeep asked about the administration’s view.

“Well of course it isn’t,” Gorka replied, referring to his 2016 book “Defeating Jihad” which argues that terrorist groups are waging a war “within Islam” for control over which version of a religion of 1.7 billion believers will prevail.

Gorka pushed aside questions about counterterrorism experts who see that semantically-focused view as overly simplistic, or who see the travel ban directed at seven majority-Muslim countries as misdirected. Those experts argue that counterterror efforts should prioritize the threat of people already in the U.S. who may become radicalized over the threat of terrorists coming into the country from abroad.

“We’re not going to listen to so-called terrorism experts who were linked in any way to the last eight years of disastrous counterterrorism,” Gorka said. “We’re going to take a new approach. We have a new President.”

Listen to the full interview below:

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly quoted Gorka ‘s response to the question of whether the Trump administration views Islam as the enemy. He did not agree that Islam was the enemy. We regret the error.

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