POLITICS
06/08/2010 04:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Malcolm Nance: Defeat Al Qaeda By Rebranding It As A 'Cult' (VIDEO)

One thing that's been pretty clear for a long time is that there is always going to be a faction, opposed to the White House's policies on terrorism, who will loudly complain that their favorite magic words aren't being used. That was underscored a few weeks ago, when Lamar Smith had a crazy outburst about Attorney General Eric Holder's avoidance of the term "Islamic radicalism."

What went underappreciated is that Holder was essentially doing his level best to avoid making any connections between dead-ender jihadists and the larger Muslim population of Earth, with whom we are attempting to find common cause in the war on terror. This is written pretty large in Afghanistan, where the counter-insurgency strategy we are deploying depends on forging alliances with Afghans and persuading those who can be persuaded to peel away from al Qaeda and the radical members of the Taliban. At the time of the Holder-Smith tilt, I said: "Smith would probably argue that the word 'radical' does all of Holder's heavy lifting for him, but just try referring to the Hutaree terrorists as a "radical Christian group" (which they are!) and see what kind of complaints you get."

But is it possible to perhaps find a way to meet the "magic worders" in the middle? Spencer Ackerman highlights this segment between Rachel Maddow and counterterrorism consultant Malcolm Nance as a possible way this matter could be put to rest:

My pal Malcolm Nance goes on Rachel Maddow's show to push forward his idea that ending the threat from al-Qaeda requires a push by the U.S. and affiliates to rebrand al-Qaeda as a "cult." That is, a marginal entity that perverts Islam like David Koresh did Christianity and Baruch Goldstein did Judaism. Since I've been writing for months that the proper way to understand al-Qaeda is through the lens of conspiracy theorists -- Jews n' Americans stand in the way of a grand restoration of the Caliphate! -- I think it's right on.

I'd agree: "cult" seems to be just what the doctor ordered. But I'll let Nance make the case himself:

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Nance is the author of "An End To al Qaeda".

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