The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.
That is a repudiation of the language regularly used by both the president and General McMaster’s predecessor, Michael T. Flynn, who resigned last week after admitting that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about a phone call with a Russian diplomat.
It is also a sign that General McMaster, a veteran of the Iraq war known for his sense of history and independent streak, might move the council away from the ideologically charged views of Mr. Flynn, who was also a three-star Army general before retiring.
As the NY Times noted, General McMaster’s views would not necessarily be the final word in a White House where Mr. Trump and several of his top advisers view Islam in deeply xenophobic terms. Some aides, including the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, have warned of a looming existential clash between Islam and the Judeo-Christian world.
Mr. Bannon and Stephen Miller, another senior adviser with anti-Islamic views, have close ties to Mr. Trump and walk-in privileges in the Oval Office. General McMaster, 54, has neither.
Known for challenging his superiors, General McMaster was nearly passed over for the rank of brigadier general in 2007, until Gen. David H. Petraeus, who used his counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and Robert M. Gates, then the defense secretary, rallied support for him.