(CNSNews.com) – CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday “words or comments that taint a religion as being the source of the problem” are “detrimental to our interests” in dealing with the Muslim world.
Brennan argued incendiary remarks about Islam do not help “to arrest this cancer that has taken over so many of the communities because of a lot of the underlying conditions that exist within the Middle East and Africa, South Asia areas because of economic deprivation, political disenfranchisement, lack of opportunity.”
He said that “fanatics, extremists and terrorists ... are driven by this ideology that is not rooted in Islam.”
Brennan spoke with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg Wednesday and was asked about the impact of incendiary remarks about Islam in political discourse.
“Words and comments that taint a religion as being the source of the problem, I think, is tremendously detrimental to our interests and to a better understanding of this phenomenon,” Brennan said.
Brennan said that he has met with “princes, presidents, and prime ministers throughout the Middle East,” that are “outraged that their community, the Muslim community, has been affected by this cancer - individuals who have this distorted and very perverted interpretation of Islam that pursue these psychopathic agendas of horrific violence.”
“They recognize that they have a very important role, the leading role, to help purge their communities of these influences,” he added. “These individuals who are fanatics, extremists and terrorists, they are driven by this ideology that is not rooted in Islam. It’s a psychopathic ideology that is very absolutist that either you’re with us or against us.”
Brennan added that remarks characterizing Islam as the problem do not “help to arrest this cancer that has taken over so many of the communities, because of a lot of the underlying conditions that exist within the Middle East and Africa, South Asia areas because of economic deprivation, political disenfranchisement, lack of opportunity.
“These terrorist organizations and this perverted version of religion preys upon their sense of hopelessness and by making comments that are incendiary and are viewed as attacking a religion or a people or a community only further drive those individuals to grasp onto those extremist views,” he explained.
Goldberg followed up pointing out that some people would respond that “these are Muslims who are citing scripture who are seemingly devout people, who have broad support in parts of the Muslim world, and so it doesn’t add up when you say this has nothing to do with Islam. It looks like a form of Islam.”
“What’s the response to that?” he asked Brennan.
“Well people can take any faith, the Jewish faith, the Christian faith, and distort it and use it for violent agendas,” Brennan replied, “and we’ve seen through the course of history that individuals who think that they are the vanguard of the effort of Christianity or Judaism or even Hinduism or other religions really have distorted interpretation of their faith, and the overwhelming majority, the 99.9 percent of Muslims, do not support that type of violent agenda.”