The U.S. administration’s new national security adviser has reportedly told his staff that Muslims who carry out terrorist acts are corrupting Islam, a departure from an ideological position held by other senior advisers to President Donald Trump.
Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster told members of the National Security Council that the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism” was counterproductive because the actions of terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to the New York Times newspaper.
McMaster’s remarks were reportedly made Thursday at his first “all hands” staff meeting, according to people who attended the meeting.
His comments contradict language frequently used by the president and McMaster’s predecessor, Michael Flynn, who stepped down after misleading administration officials about contacts with a Russian diplomat.
The remarks may be an early sign McMaster could distance the council from the ideological views of Flynn.
McMaster’s language is more consistent with the positions of former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Both were careful to disassociate terrorist acts from the Islamic faith out of concern, in part, that the U.S. needed Muslim allies to help combat terrorism.
The extent of McMaster’s influence on this issue remains to be seen in a White House where several top presidential advisers have a different perception of Islam. Chief strategist Stephen Bannon, for example, has warned of an impending battle between the Judeo-Christian world and Islam.
The differences in positions held by White House advisers could be exposed publicly if the Senate Armed Services Committee decides to hold a confirmation hearing for McMaster. The national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation, but it must vote to approve McMaster’s three-star rank in a new position.
Committee Chairman John McCain has not said if he will hold a hearing.