Barack Obama hasn't said “radical Islamic terrorism”

Ted Cruz, shown here stumping in Iowa in November, correctly said President Obama doesn't say "radical Islamic terrorism." (New York Times photo)
Ted Cruz, shown here stumping in Iowa in November, correctly said President Obama doesn't say "radical Islamic terrorism." (New York Times photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz says the U.S. can’t defeat an enemy it won’t define and President Barack Obama won’t say a certain term.

At a Virginia press conference this month, the Texas Republican bidding for president was asked how the U.S. should respond to the terrorist attacks in Paris. "Well, the first thing we should do is identify the evil we are fighting," Cruz said. "The fact that President Obama will not identify, he literally will not utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ and as matter of policy, nobody in the administration will say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’"

PolitiFact Virginia wondered whether the White House really shuns that phrase.

A LexisNexis search of news stories and speech transcripts that used the phrases "Barack Obama" and "radical Islamic terrorism" brought up 1,900 items including many references to complaints by present and past GOP presidential contenders that Obama doesn’t use the phrase.

Running the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" through the search engine on the White House website yielded no instance of administration officials describing the Islamic State in that way. The closest thing was one instance, during a February news briefing, when White House press secretary Josh Earnest referred to "Islamic militants" while discussing Islamic State fighters in Iraq.

PolitiFact National, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times each reported In February that the president and his administration try to avoid invoking Islam while describing the Islamic State and its followers, preferring to describe the organization’s philosophy in non-religious terms such as "violent extremism." Obama also has called the Islamic State a "terrorist group" with a "twisted ideology."

The upshot, according to the articles, is that the White House wants to avoid tying the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to terrorism. That could play into the hands of terrorists, who portray the U.S. as an enemy of Islam itself.

It’s clear that the administration prefers non-religious ways to describe the Islamic State - such as a "terrorist group," "violent extremism" and "twisted ideology."

Cruz’s claim was rated True.

See the full fact check.

See Ted Cruz’s full Truth-O-Meter report card.