Top US Intel Agency Bans "Jihadist" and "Radical Islamist" as Offensive

An internal document sent by the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) officials to a top intelligence agency in the United States warned personnel not to use “problematic phrases” and "biased language” when discussing foreign adversaries like China and Islamic terrorism, claiming that these phrases hurt the sentiments of Muslim Americans.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), a Cabinet-level, US government agency responsible for directing and overseeing the country’s intelligence community, stated in an internal language guide that it seeks to ban a range of common terms and phrases, claiming that they could potentially offend Muslims and even foment racism against intelligence personnel. 

In its cover story, the internal document, exclusively obtained by the conservative news site The Daily Wire through a Freedom of Information Act request, argued that the intelligence community needs to focus on “changing terminology related to counterterrorism” because “words matter.

This article is about one of our goals: disentangling Islam from words and phrases used to discuss terrorism and extremist violence,” the story’s author, whose name was redacted from the document released to The Daily Wire, wrote, adding that it’s trying to remove “certain phrases to identify international terrorism threats that are hurtful to Muslim-Americans.

The unclassified newsletter, which The Daily Wire called “The Dive,” was created by ODNI’s Intelligence Community Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Office and was disseminated to every personnel throughout the intelligence community, which includes some of the most powerful agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, and intelligence components of each branch of the United States military.

The newsletter identified “problematic phrases” related to Islamic terrorism, which “include, but are not limited to: ‘Salafi-Jihadist,’ ‘Jihadist,’ ‘Islamic-Extremist,’ ‘Sunni/Shia-Extremism,’ and ‘Radical Islamists.’” adding these words "are hurtful to Muslim-Americans and detrimentally impact our efforts as they bolster extremist rhetoric.

The document even stated the ODNI’s DEI office took advice from the Muslim-American community when considering alternative terms to discuss Islamic terrorism.

The newsletter said, “We took great efforts to engage with the Muslim community, academics, and members of our constituency across the country. In July 2023, we invited a renowned Islamic scholar, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna College, to speak.

The newsletter even pulled from Islamic history to provide intelligence personnel with alternative terms they can use to describe Islamic terrorists.

The term Khawarij means ‘outsiders’ and references a group of individuals in Islamic history who rebelled against Ali ibn Abi Talib — one of the rightly guided caliphs after the Prophet Muhammad’s passing,” the document also said. 

But the ODNI newsletter did not stop at identifying “problematic phrases” related to Islamic terrorism. It also focused on purging “biased language” from the intelligence community.

Some of the “biased” terms and phrases ODNI employees and personnel of other intelligence agencies were instructed to avoid include "blacklisted," "cakewalk," "brown bag," "grandfathered," and "sanity check."

For instance, "blacklisted” implies that “black is bad and white is good," while "cakewalk" allegedly referred "to a dance performed by slaves for slave owners on plantation grounds," where “the winner received a cake.

Conservative politicians strongly condemned the document. Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a war veteran, said the newsletter is just one example of the Biden administration’s misplaced priorities.

The Biden administration putting DEI above national security concerns is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Cotton said after reviewing the newsletter. “Our intelligence agencies should spend their time finding terrorists, not worrying about whether they will offend them.

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