The term "Islamofascism" dangerously obscures important distinctions and differences between groups of Islamic extremists, says a counter-terror think tank.
"Since Sept. 11 conservatives have continually lumped various groups and countries together … into one threat that they term 'Islamofascism,'" according to the National Security Network, a group of left-leaning former U.S. officials and experts in counter-terrorism and national security.
"The reality is much complicated," reads their report issued Wednesday. The groups and nations that make up the "Islamofascist" threat include al-Qaida, al-Qaida in Iraq, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian government institutions that they control, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In reality, the report says, "These various groups and countries have different intentions and capabilities, often work at cross purposes and are in some cases ideologically opposed to each other."
Escalating tensions across the region between Shiites and Sunnis only emphasize their divergent interests and intentions.
"By confusing these various threats, conservatives make it impossible to pursue effective policies," the report concludes, adding that the approach "has caused the United States to miss numerous opportunities, where it could have played these groups off of each other to America's benefit."
The term also "creates the perception that the United States is fighting a religious war against Islam, thus alienating moderate voices in the region who would be willing to work with America towards common goals."
"Dividing these groups and dealing with them separately is a far better policy than lumping them together," the report concludes.