Former CIA Director David Petraeus wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post Friday claiming that the increase of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States threatens to drive more Muslims to terrorism.
Terror groups like al-Qaida and ISIS can benefit from the rapid increase of ugly rhetoric against Muslims as it supports their vision of the world as one divided between the forces of Islam and the forces of the satanic west. These groups seize the opportunity to drive recruitment and push moderate Muslims into their ranks.
Petraeus thinks we should police our own speech, as not to offend them and face the potential consequence of a growing, fifth column taking shape in the West.
“Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens,” Petraeus wrote. “As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.”
“Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State,” Petraeus added. “The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion.”
American intelligence depend on cooperation from moderate Muslims a key element to crush domestic terror threats. To alienate those Muslims would put our nation in danger and agents would lose important assets embedded in Muslim communities.
Petraeus noted the successful utilization of Iraqis to fight al-Qaida during the initial stages of the Iraqi invasion. He says this would not have been possible with anti-Muslim rhetoric. Without those allies, more U.S. troops would’ve been needed, resulting in more casualties.
“I fear that those who demonize and denigrate Islam make it more likely that it will be our own men and women who ultimately have to shoulder more of this fight — at greater cost in dollars and lives,” Petraeus said.