Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Questions DIA Director On Necessity Of Defining Islamic Extremist Threat

February 4, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, during a full House Armed Services Committee hearing on World Wide Threats, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) asked Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, USMC about the Obama Administration’s aversion to using the term “Islamic extremism.”

Regarding the term, Gabbard said: “There's a debate right now…about how this ideology, how this motivation must be identified, in order to define our enemy and in order to defeat this threat. And I think it's important as we look at dedication of resources in strategy and planning, that this identification of their motivation, of this radical Islamic ideology is made very distinctly.”

Full text of Rep. Gabbard’s questions below

TULSI GABBARD:  General Stewart, you spoke briefly about your efforts particularly in the Middle East dealing with this Islamic extremist threat that we're seeing growing there, and I wondered if you could speak to how critical your assessments are and the intelligence that you're gathering, regarding the intent behind this extremist ideology, informing this strategy to defeat this enemy and what is that motivation, what is that intentʻ

LTG STEWART:  ISIL, in this particular case, is a radical ideology that must be countered with a moderate ideology. I think they intend, if I were to try to ascribe intent, their intent is to the destabilize large countries in the region, force Western countries to depart the region, and then of course as they've already stated, to create this Islamic state. It is based on a violent extremist’s interpretation of Islam and it is not, I would argue, common throughout the entire region. So if I were to map out what ISIL would love to do, ISIL would love to have the United States and Western countries out of the region and slowly pick apart those other moderate nations who would counter their radical ideology, and if they could do that then they could have fairly easy opportunity to create this state that they think is appropriate for the region.

TULSI GABBARD: And what are the common elements that you findʻ While much of the action has been occurring in Iraq and Syria you listed a number of other countries in the Middle East, when we see what's happening in Libya for example, what are the common elements that you see between these different actors, whether it be ISIL, Al Qaeda, AQAP, Boko Haramʻ The list goes on.

LTG STEWART: Ungoverned states, weak government institution, economic instability, poverty.

TULSI GABBARD: What are the common, you're referring to the common elements between the different geographic locations, common elements between these groups specificallyʻ

LTG STEWART: The common element really is just a radical approach and ideology I think that's the common element. ISIL can create, create in quotes, regions, just by declaring that ISIL is in Libya. Doesn't have to be anything substantive, it just has to create the impression that it is there and it is a different force to offer to the people in that region. So I don't know that there's anything more common than just the very extreme approach; very violent, very strict interpretation of the religion and finding opportunities in ungoverned spaces.

TULSI GABBARD:  I think it's important that we recognize this because as you're well aware there's a debate right now about whether, about how this ideology, how this motivation, must be identified in order to define our enemy and in order to defeat this threat. And I think it's important as we look at dedication of resources in strategy and planning that this identification of their motivation, of this radical Islamic ideology, is made very distinctly, as we would with any other type of enemy. I know for the members here who've served in the military at one point or another, when we look at a basic thing like the five paragraph operations order, when we look at the situation, we look at and examine our enemy. We look what their capabilities are and what their motivations are. So as we look at this threat that exists both in the Middle East and in countries in the West that we recognize this and identify it clearly.  Thank you I yield back.

CHAIRMAN MAC THORNBERRY:  If I could just say amen to what the gentlelady just said. As matter of fact we're going to have a hearing next week on this very topic and I think it's very, very important.


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