- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2017

After blasting both President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for avoiding the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” President Trump may steer clear of those same words during a speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” broadcast Sunday morning, White House National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster seemed to suggest that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on the Middle East and terrorism may be undergoing a major change.

“He listens to people in the region and a big part of this — this isn’t America just on transmit here in the Middle East. This is the president asking questions, listening, learning, and of course the president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” Gen. McMaster said when asked directly if the president would say “radical Islamic terrorism” during his address.

“But I think it’s important that whatever we call it, we recognize that these are not religious people and in fact, these enemies of all civilization, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under some false idea of a religious war,” he said.

Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton and others routinely avoided the phrase because, in their view, using it could give the impression the U.S. is at war with the entire Muslim world, or that there is a fundamental link between Islam and terrorism.

Mr. Trump routinely criticized that position throughout his campaign and often used the phrase during stump speeches.

Regardless of whether he uses those words, Gen. McMaster said the president will zero-in on the bloodshed and destruction groups like the Islamic State have brought upon the Middle East.

“I think [what] the president will point out is the vast majority, the vast majority of victims … are Muslims, and of course the Muslim world is very cognizant of that having borne witness to and experienced directly this humanitarian catastrophe that is going on across the greater Middle East and beyond,” he said.

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