From remarks to CSIS by John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism:
Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one’s community.
And there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children. Indeed, characterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive. It would play into the false perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims. This is why Muslim leaders around the world have spoken out forcefully and often at great risk to their own lives to reject al-Qaida and violent extremism.
So exactly why is it that the violent extremists are acting so violently extreme — what is their motivation? Or must that no longer be asked? Asking Eric Holder obviously yields no results. (Raymond Ibrahim has more on this issue.)