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In a section on the ideological source for Islamic terrorists, the doctrine says, “For many Muslims, the Caliphate produces a positive image of the golden age of Islamic civilization. This image mobilizes support for al Qaeda among some of the most traditional Muslims while concealing the details of the movement’s goal. In fact, al Qaeda’s leaders envision the ‘restored Caliphate’ as a totalitarian state similar to the pre-2002 Taliban regime in Afghanistan.”

The manual also discusses support networks for “Islamic extremists:”

“A feature of today’s operational environment deserving mention is the effort by Islamic extremists, including those that advocate violence, to spread their influence through the funding and use of entities that share their views or facilitate them to varying degrees. These entities may or may not be threats themselves; however, they can provide passive or active support to local or distant insurgencies.”

Among these support groups, it says, are “religious schools and mosques.”

In the successful prosecution of an Islamic charity in Dallas that funneled money to the designated terrorist group Hamas, the U.S. Justice Department listed scores of U.S.-based Islamic groups as unindicted co-conspirators.

The counterinsurgency doctrine also talks of people “committed to anti-United States terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.”

How to define the enemy has been debated in Washington since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Liberal groups such as the Center for American Progress advocated no Islam link, while conservatives generally say a more precise definition of the enemy is needed if the U.S. hopes to win.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, some Muslims criticized the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, for using the term “Islamic extremism.”

“If it’s not our intent to paint everyone with the same brush, then certainly we should think seriously about just characterizing them as criminals, because that is what they are,” Muneer Fareed, who then headed the Islamic Society of North America, told The Washington Times.

Douglas Feith, who as undersecretary of defense for policy under Mr. Bush helped plan the war on terror, said, “There always has been a sensitivity that we do not want to do or say anything that will allow our efforts to be mischaracterized credibly as a war against Islam.”

Mr. Feith, an analyst at the Hudson Institute, is now working on a paper on a U.S. strategy for countering “Islamist extremism.”

“What Brennan has done in this speech, I think, he’s bent over backwards to avoid using the term Islam at all and it makes discussions of what we’re really up against artificial, unrealistic and strategically unhelpful,” Mr. Feith said. “I think they need to be a little bolder and a little more honest and a little more assertive in making this extremely important distinction. To say Islam has nothing to do with it is ridiculous.”

He describes the distinction this way:

“People in the administration should be making the clear distinction between Islam, which is a religion and which is not our enemy, and extremist Islamism, which is a political ideology and is our enemy. … The fact is our enemies fly the banner of Islam. They claim to represent the religion. There are other people in the religion who say they don’t. What we need to be clear about is, our enemy has an extremist political ideology. They describe that ideology as the true religion. And there is no way we can deal with this phenomenon without confronting the fact that the enemy political ideology is rooted in a religion.”

Mr. Brennan, in a June 24 meeting with reporters and editors of The Times, said that the administration’s goal of not describing al Qaeda and its allies in Islamic terms is aimed at denying them legitimacy.

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