UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL - U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedeen, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism.
"There' s a growing consensus [in the Bush administration] that we need to move away from that language," said a former senior administration official who was involved until recently in policy debates on the issue.
Instead, in two documents circulated last month by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the multiagency center charged with strategic coordination of the U.S. war on terror, officials are urged to use terms such as violent extremists, totalitarian and death cult to characterize al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
"Avoid labeling everything 'Muslim.' It reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that al Qaeda promotes," according to "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counter-Terrorism Communication," produced last month by the center.