White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan joined President Barack Obama and the rest of the First Family in Martha’s Vineyard, while the President and his family vacationed. As I wrote in my Friday post on Mr. Brennan, he described the release of Pan Am Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who was expected to die of terminal cancer three month after his release last year by Scottish authorities, as “unfortunate, inappropriate and wrong.” Overseas press, however, reported in August, that the White House had supported the release of Megrahi.
Mr. Brennan had visited the Washington Times Editorial Board on June 24 as a result of a June 11 Washington Times editorial he objected to. It did not take long for the White House counter-terrorism adviser to lose his temper with our editorial board’s questions regarding what he previously said about individuals who become terrorists (see transcript and video below).
Mr. Brennan cut the meeting short and stormed out of our offices thereafter following a question posed by senior editorial writer Jim Robbins (transcript and video below). Referring to a quote Mr. Brennan said in May, calling jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” Mr. Robbins looked to discuss the concept of jihad further with the Obama administration adviser. Fox News reported earlier in May:
The president’s top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” arguing that the term “jihadists” should not be used to describe America’s enemies.
During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of “political, economic and social forces,” but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in “religious terms.”
He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not “terrorism,” because terrorism is a “tactic,” and not terror, because terror is a “state of mind” — though Brennan’s title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word “terrorism” in it. But then Brennan said that the word “jihad” should not be applied either.
“Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children,” Brennan said.
TWT: You mentioned jihad, for example, and would you agree with the lesser and greater and lesser jihad framework? I mean, that’s pretty standard.
BRENNAN: Sure, it is…absolutely.
TWT: Can you give me an example of a jihad in history? Like, has there ever been a jihad…an armed jihad anywhere in history? Has it ever existed for real, or is it just a concept?
BRENNAN: Absolutely it has.
BRENNAN: I’m not going to go into this sort of history discussion here.
TWT: But it’s important to frame the concept, because we want to say that what al-Qaeda is doing is not jihad. They say it is, and Abdul Azzam has said, in fact, ‘there’s not even a greater jihad.’ That that’s just a myth—that hadith didn’t even really happen. That there’s only armed jihad. Ayatollah Khomeini said ‘there is only armed jihad, and it would be useful to be able to characterize or to contrast what they’re doing and what they claim against a legitimate armed jihad in the past.
BRENNAN: I think we’ve finished. I have to get going.
Mr. Brennan left our offices immediately after that exchange.
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