Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief of Breitbart News and now President Trump’s chief strategist, was the main driver of the president’s rapid signing of the executive order on immigration on Friday, which set off a political firestorm. At the center of critics’ concerns is the perception that the order is aimed at Muslims, though Mr. Trump said over the weekend that the order “is not a Muslim ban” and noted that it singled out only seven of about 50 majority-Muslim countries.
Mr. Bannon has long argued that Americans, whether they know it or not, are in a war with radical Islam, describing it in sweeping, almost apocalyptic terms. His view appears to be shared by Mr. Trump and his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, and by several lower-ranking officials. Illuminating Mr. Bannon’s views is a lengthy talk he gave in the summer of 2014 via Skype from Los Angeles to a Vatican meeting of the Institute for Human Dignity, a conservative Catholic group based in Rome. What follows are brief audio and video excerpts of the talk, which was first published in full by BuzzFeed in November, with explanatory comments.
Speaking as Islamic State fighters battled their way across Iraq, seizing territory and shocking American and European officials, Mr. Bannon repeatedly stated that the United States was in a “global war” with radical Islam, which he sometimes describes as “Islamic fascism.” He emphasizes their targeting of Christians and their use of contemporary social media:
Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.
If you look at what’s happening in ISIS, which is the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, that is now currently forming the caliphate that is having a military drive on Baghdad, if you look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism. If you look at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook and modern ways to fund-raise, and to use crowdsourcing to fund, besides all the access to weapons, over the last couple days they have had a radical program of taking kids and trying to turn them into bombers. They have driven 50,000 Christians out of a town near the Kurdish border. We have video that we’re putting up later today on Breitbart where they’ve took 50 hostages and thrown them off a cliff in Iraq.
That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.
What ISIS Wants
Mr. Bannon discusses the hopes of the Islamic State,also known as ISIS or ISIL, to slaughter people in Western Europe and the United States:
They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.
Asked whether “secularism or the Muslim world” posed the greater threat to Judeo-Christian civilization, Mr. Bannon links the two: