Retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn served as Trump’s national security adviser during the campaign and agreed Friday (Nov. 18) to continue on. Flynn, a registered Democrat, served as head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency before he was ousted in 2014. Since then, he’s been a brash critic of President Barack Obama and the national security establishment’s approach to defeating terrorism—and he’s made no secret of his disdain for Islam.
“Islam is a political ideology…it definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion,” Flynn said in a speech at the annual conference of ACT for America, the largest anti-Muslim grassroots organization in the US. “It’s like cancer…a malignant cancer in this case.” Flynn also serves as an adviser for the group, which was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, a leader of the anti-Islam lobby in the US. Flynn has described Gabriel as “incredibly courageous.”
At other times, Flynn has been more careful to specify that “radical Islam” is the source of his ire. He led the charge in excoriating Democrats for not using the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” and published a book this summer called The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam And Its Allies.
In it, Flynn writes that “without a proper sense of urgency, we will eventually be defeated, dominated, and very likely destroyed” by Muslim militants. “They are dead set on taking us over and drinking our blood.”
His rhetoric rarely distinguishes between extremism and ordinary Muslims; instead, Flynn insists that Muslims have “banned the search for truth” because they believe the Quran, Islam’s holy book, is infallible.
Flynn rivals Trump in his penchant for posting frequent and controversial messages on Twitter, a primary vehicle for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. In one of his most notorious tweets, Flynn wrote that the “fear of Muslims is rational.”
The national security adviser appointment does not require Senate confirmation, even though the role offers the potential to significantly shape US foreign and military policy. Critics say that Flynn’s anti-Islam rhetoric spells trouble for the US.
Flynn is “convinced that all Muslims who practice traditional Islam are a security risk. That is not only untrue but extremely dangerous,” says Will McCants, director for the Brookings Project on US relations with the Islamic world and the author of The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State. The effect will be to alienate many of the world’s Muslims, he says, and send them “into the arms of jihadist recruiters” who contend that “America seeks to destroy their religion.”