Washington- The administration of Donald Trump wants to revamp and rename the U.S. government program of “Countering Violent Extremism” to “Countering Islamic Extremism,” officials briefed on the matter have said.
This development comes after Trump signed an executive order a week ago barring entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry for 90 days.
Many U.S. officials and security experts have warned that Trump’s new measures would have bad repercussions on the U.S. and increase the risk of terrorist attacks.
The officials, who said the U.S. government program would be renamed, told Reuters that the change would no longer target groups such as white supremacists.
Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against ISIS and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it.
Some proponents of the program fear that rebranding it could make it more difficult for the government to work with Muslims already hesitant to trust the new administration, particularly after Trump issued the travel ban.
According to The Washington Post, jihadist groups have celebrated the ban on travel, saying the new policy validates their claim that the U.S. is at war with Islam.
Comments posted to pro-ISIS social media accounts predicted that Trump’s executive order would persuade American Muslims to side with the extremists. One posting hailed the U.S. president as “the best caller to Islam,” while others predicted that Trump would soon launch a new war in the Middle East.
A writer on Telegram compared the executive order to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which militant leaders at the time hailed as a “blessed invasion” that ignited anti-Western fervor.
For Farah Pandith, a former national security official in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations specializing in tackling radicalization, there is no doubt the ban “has created an advantage for” ISIS.
“It will not keep America safer,” she argued.
Her warning was echoed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said Trump’s order was unlikely to be effective in fighting terrorism – but “triggers widespread anxiety and anger that may facilitate the propaganda of the very terrorist organizations we all want to fight against.”