Islamist militants are ‘preeminent threat’ to the West, Homeland Security chief tells Israeli forum


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Homeland Security secretary told Israelis that Islamist militants are the “preeminent threat” to the West.

“From Ottawa to Berlin, our communities are now on the frontlines,” Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday at the first International Homeland Security Forum, an initiative launched by Nielsen’s Israeli counterpart, Gilad Erdan. “All countries represented here have experienced this evil in one form or another, whether your nationals have been victims or your homelands have been hit directly.”

The struggle “requires moral clarity,” Nielsen said.

“So all of us in this room must remember we are engaged in a generational struggle against Islamist militants, the preeminent terror threat to our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life,” she told the forum, which according to Israeli media reports attracted ministerial level participation from 17 countries.

Nielsen’s blunt language reflected the preferences of President Donald Trump and is emblematic of the shift in rhetoric from the Obama administration, which avoided attaching “Islamic” to “terrorism,” in part because of concerns that it would alienate Muslim moderates.

Nielsen praised Israel for closely cooperating with the United States in combating terrorism.

“Following the 9/11 attacks — the deadliest terror assault in modern world history — you were right there by our side,” she said. “We knew we could not win the coming fight alone. And we turned to you for guidance because the State of Israel has withstood decades of violence at the hands of fanatics — and has proudly defended freedom against relentless terrorist enemies.”

Nielsen reportedly is under constant fire from Trump for not sufficiently reducing the entry of undocumented migrants into the United States. During her stay in Israel, she toured Israel’s border and received a briefing on Israeli border technology, which she mentioned in her address.

“Border security is national security,” she said. “Our Israeli partners know that better than anyone, and I was fortunate today to see the incredible work they are doing to keep their territory safe.”

Nielsen and Erdan met Monday at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the first ministerial meeting at the embassy since it was opened last month following its controversial transfer from Tel Aviv.

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