In college, Trump aide Stephen Miller led controversial 'Terrorism Awareness Project' warning of 'Islamofascism'

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  • Stephen Miller's hardline views on Islam and terrorism took shape while he was a student at Duke University.
  • Miller helped launch the "Terrorism Awareness Project," aimed at educating students about the risk of "Islamofascism."

(CNN)White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has garnered attention in recent weeks as one of the chief architects behind President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The 31-year-old aide's hardline views on Islam and terrorism took shape while he was still a student at Duke University. It was there, in the 2007 spring semester of his senior year, that Miller helped launch and run the "Terrorism Awareness Project," an initiative, Miller wrote at the time, that was aimed at educating students about the risk of "Islamofascism."
A CNN KFile review of Miller's comments on TV and on his blog for the project, which is available on the Web archive, reveal Miller's belief that the US and western civilization are at war with Islamic jihadists. Miller did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CNN's KFile for this story.
Miller served as national campus coordinator, president, and co-founder of the initiative, which was launched by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-wing group which describes its missions as combating "the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror."
A key premise of the project, Miller wrote in a blog post, was that schools and universities under left-wing influence had failed to educate students about the risk of what the project's leaders called "Islamofascism" and had allowed the ideology to penetrate school systems and academia.
"Gripped by complacency and the omnipresent force of political correctness, our nation has failed to educate our youth about the holy war being waged against us and what needs to be done to defeat the Jihadists that are waging this war," Miller wrote. "American kids attend school in an educational system corrupted by the hard left. In this upside-down world, America is the villain and Jihadists the victims of our foreign policy. Instead of opening eyes, we are fastening blindfolds."
The mission, Miller added, was to "provide informational literature, films, posters, advertisements, speakers, and panel discussions whose purpose is to make our fellow students aware of the Islamic jihad and the terrorist threat, and to mobilize support for the defense of America and the civilization of the West."
The main effort taken on by the group was putting on "Islamofascism Awareness Week" at college campuses around the country. One poster for the event available on the Web archive depicts the execution of a woman by a member of the Taliban.
A guide available on the Web archive outlined suggestions to college students on how to put on events for the week.
The guide suggested students do a sit-in in Women's Studies Departments "to protest the silence of Women's Studies programs and Women's Centers in our universities while women are suffering brutal and inhumane treatment in the Islamic world."
It also suggests hosting a filming of "Islam: What the West Needs to Know" which "reveals the violent, expansionary ideology of the so called 'religion of peace' that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government."
The archived site also includes a grainy, mid-2000s animation film that features the word "Jihad" superimposed over the United States and set to the musical selection Carmina Burana. The film, "What Every American Needs To Know About Jihad" listed Islamic terrorists and showed quotes of Osama Bin Laden. Ads by the group in the Duke Chronicle advertised screenings of another film "Obsession," a documentary on radical Islam screened on campuses which some critics charged as incendiary and Islamophobic.
In February 2007, the group attempted to run an ad in campus newspapers nationwide, but newspapers refused to run it. Fox News reported at the time the ad was designed by Robert Spencer, a man who the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation league have labeled "anti-Muslim." The ad argued that jihad "is about the global rule of radical Islam" and constitutes a war against Christians, Jews, women, and gays, alongside quotations attributed to Osama bin Laden and others.
In a February 2007 appearance on Fox and Friends, Miller said the decision by some universities not to run the ad showed their bias.
"That's what so insane, is that in today's environment on college campuses, you can have these professors saying that we fabricated 9/11, you can have people like Samuel Arion teaching, who were indicted for terrorist ties, you can have, like at Duke, we had a conference come to the university where people were actually recruited to interfere against Israeli anti-terror operations," Miller said. "You've got this insane stuff happening on our campuses, but you can't run a simple fact-based ad that talks about the threat of radical Islam."
A screen grab from a Terrorism Awareness Project video.
Spencer wrote in an email to CNN's KFile that he didn't remember writing the ad, but he said he was "of course" pleased that Miller had attained an influential role in the White House and defended himself against the criticism that his views are "anti-Muslim."
"The idea that those who call attention to the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat are 'extreme thinkers on the right' is false and malicious propaganda spread by the SPLC, a hate group dedicated to defaming and thereby marginalizing voices that dissent from its hard-Left, globalist, internationalist line," Spencer said. "I am no more 'anti-Muslim' than foes of the Nazis were 'anti-German.' That any of our views are remotely controversial is a testimony to how corrupt and compromised you and your colleagues are."
David Horowitz, the founder of the project, said that he didn't remember Miller's involvement, but said that the two have known each other since Miller was in high school and that he recommended Miller to former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (Miller worked as her press secretary). Asked how he thought Miller's views on Islam had evolved since he participated in the project, Horowitz said he didn't know, adding, "I know that he admires my work. As many normal people do."