Ex-FBI Agent: U.S. Government Should Identify ISIS as ‘Islamic Extremists’

By Penny Starr | August 29, 2014 | 4:06 PM EDT


Wayne Zaideman, former Federal Bureau of Investigation legal attache in the Middle East, spoke at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies on April 28, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNew.com) – A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) legal attache in the Middle East said Thursday that the U.S. government should return to the use of the terms “terrorism” and “Islamic extremism” to describe the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the threat it poses to the Middle East and the West.

“We have to identify our enemies and remember who our friends are,” Wayne Zaideman said at a seminar on ISIS held at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

Fighting ISIS (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other Islamic extremist groups requires acknowledging who they are – something the Obama administration has resisted by restricting the use of these descriptions, he said.

“For a while – after Obama came into office – that was stricken from [the] vocabulary of the FBI and other U.S. government agencies,” said Zaideman, who also has worked with the FBI domestically.

“It’s no more terrorism, it’s ‘manmade disasters’; and it’s no more ‘Islamic extremism’ because that’s not politically correct,” he pointed out.

“You have to identify what the enemy is,” Zaideman said. “The enemy is not Islam – it’s not all Muslims. That’s understood.

“But the enemy is Islamic extremism, and while not all terrorists are Muslims – that’s certainly the case – in recent years we’ve seen that most of the terrorism incidents have been conducted by Islamic extremists. So we have to understand that,” Zaideman added.

He advocated using the term “war on terrorism” to describe the fight against ISIS because, he said, it accurately describes the ongoing intelligence operations needed to combat the group’s ongoing terrorist acts.

In his remarks to reporters on Thursday, President Barack Obama did not use the term "Islamic extremism" to describe ISIS, although he did refer to them as "terrorists".

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fighters seized Mosul, Iraq’s second city, on June 10, 2014 (Screenshot: ISIS propaganda video)

“As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland,” Obama said

“Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment,” Obama said, referring to the limited U.S. military strikes on ISIS strongholds in Iraq.

But the president was sharply criticized for saying at the same press briefing that he still had no strategy for defeating ISIS.

Ruth Wedgewood, professor of international law and diplomacy at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and president of the International Law Association, said Obama should reverse his policy of scaling back U.S. military capability.

“This is not the time to be drawing down the U.S. military,” said Wedgewood, adding that Obama should be beefing up the Armed Forces to confront the current terrorist threats.

Others panelists said that defeating the ideology of ISIS is as vital as a military victory.

As reported earlier by CNSNews.com, ISIS terrorists are killing people across Syria and Iraq who are not Muslim or who do not conform to their brand of Islam. According to the United Nations, the atrocities in Syria include forcing children to witness beheadings and other public executions.