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Understanding the Nature of Terrorism

My principle concern in this day and age of terrorism is: the general public doesn’t understand the threats we face from radical jihadists, who they are, what they want, and what we can do about the threat. Americans are not being properly informed about the nature of the jihadist threat and their plans to do us harm. 

In fact, I believe one of the reasons the public does not know is because their elected officials do not know or understand the true nature and gravity of this threat.


As such, that’s why I initiated a new Congressional group called the Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus; the purpose of which is to inform Members of Congress on the real threats of Islamic extremists, and particularly jihadist ideologues. 

Joining me as co-chairs of this group are Representatives Bud Cramer (D-AL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Ben Chandler (D-KY). Our focus is constant: we currently have more than 75 members from both parties. The full caucus meets twice a month for anti-terrorism experts to educate us about the threat facing our nation.

The group is currently learning about a variety of issues involving jihad such as the history of Islam, the differences and similarities of Sunni and Shia Muslims, terrorist financing, terrorist use of the internet, and terrorist infiltration techniques.


Members of Congress can take this information and make better policy and laws regarding terrorist threats. However, the main goal of this new group is to have the Members go home and talk to their constituents about these issues so Americans know what we face as a nation—thereby fostering a truly educated national dialogue on the nature of terrorism and how to combat it.   

For the past year I have read numerous books and spoken to dozens of experts on terrorism. The first lesson I have learned is that we must understand that we are not simply at war with terrorism. We are at war with an enemy who preaches radical Islam, and perverts Islam’s tenets in practice. The enemy wants to create a world where freedom succumbs to the will of a tyrannical minority.

The jihadists have become incredibly advanced in their public relations efforts to recruit new followers and incite rage against the United States and other Western nations. Using the internet, anti-American media outlets, educational institutions and religious sermons, radical Islamists have gained a foothold among otherwise moderate Muslims in other countries as well as our own. 


The term “jihad” means “struggle”. It is an important part of Islamic teaching and is part of the Koran. There are two types of jihad: internal and external. The internal jihad is the struggle for Muslims to live their lives according to Islamic law while facing life’s daily challenges. It is the external jihad which should have everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, concerned. This jihad is used by groups like Al-Qaeda to justify killing innocent people they label “infidels”. 


Over the next year, our goal is for Members to write editorials about what the experts are teaching us in our new anti-terrorism/jihad meetings and to bring an anti-terrorism/jihad conference to their districts so that all Americans can hear first hand about the threats we face.       

Together we can learn more about this important issue, and together we can discuss how we confront it.