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“Alternately, there may be things that in fact are concerning. And this is precisely the conundrum and the challenge that we’re faced with right now that, because of the opacity of the Chinese system and the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] in particular, we don’t have the degree of insight into their capabilities or their intentions that we would like.”

Islamist threat

The White House’s call for officials to stop using the word “Islam” or “Islamist” in any way to describe al Qaeda and other terror organizations is not exactly catching on — here or abroad, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

Take, for example, the new report from a blue-ribbon panel of experts empowered by Congress to comment on the Pentagon’s four-year strategy-force structure paper, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The independent QDR panel was headed by Stephen Hadley, national security adviser for former President George W. Bush, and William Perry, defense secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

Contrary to Obama policy, their report, made public earlier this month, mentions radical or extremist Islamists at least seven times.

“Radical Islamist extremism and the threat of terrorism,” reads the heading for one report section, which states: “Salafist jihadi movements, wedded to the use of violence and employing terror as their primary strategy, will remain both an international threat to the global system and a specific threat to America and its interests abroad.”

Pakistan, Mr. Hadley and Mr. Perry stated, “is vulnerable to an Iranian-style revolution that Islamists would exploit.”

The report also said: “Although no one can predict the future with any certainty, three long-term challenges to our ability to protect our interests stand out. [One is] violent Islamist movements.”

German officials have not gotten the White House message, either. Earlier this month, Hamburg police closed the mosque, once known as al Quds, where leaders of the Sept. 11 attacks met and plotted.

“We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad, or holy war,” said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for the Hamburg state interior ministry.

Then there is this lead on an Agence France-Presse story dated Aug. 13: “BEIRUT — Lebanese troops on Saturday killed two Islamist militants, including a head of an al Qaeda-inspired group which fought a battle with the army in 2007 that cost hundreds of lives, a military spokesman said.”

Last spring, John Brennan, President Obama’s chief adviser on combating terrorism, delivered a major policy speech on how the administration describes the enemy.

“Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear,” Mr. Brennan said. “Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.”

Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at