Though cast as measures to make the country safe, the Trump administration’s moves during its first week in office are more likely to weaken the counterterrorism defenses the United States has erected over the past 16 years, several current and former U.S. officials said.

Through inflammatory rhetoric and hastily drawn executive orders, the administration has alienated allies including Iraq, provided propaganda fodder to terror networks that frequently portray U.S. involvement in the Middle East as a religious crusade, and endangered critical cooperation from often hidden U.S. partners – whether the leader of a mosque in an American suburb or the head of a Middle East intelligence service.

An executive order – issued Friday and titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” – bans entry to people from a list of Muslim-majority nations including Iraq, where U.S. military and intelligence agencies have for years relied on cooperation from Iraqi and Kurdish authorities, not to mention thousands of individual translators and contractors.

“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, S.C., and John McCain, Ariz., said Sunday in a statement. “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

Already, supporters of the Islamic State quickly claimed the travel ban as a victory. Postings on social-media sites linked to the terrorist group predicted that President Trump’s order would galvanize Muslims and claimed that it showed that the United States is at war with Islam.

In tweets Sunday, Trump said: “The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong – they are sadly weak on immigration. The senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.”

Separately, in a statement, Trump said the “seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror,” and he noted that Obama had barred refugees from Iraq for six months in 2011.

Trump’s inauguration vow to put America first and “only America” rattled allies. A leaked draft of an order on U.S. detention policies compounded those concerns by raising the prospect of rebuilding the CIA’s network of notorious “black site” prisons around the world.

The immigration measures imposed late Friday were seen by U.S counterterrorism officials and analysts as particularly counterproductive and poorly conceived.

Absent from the Trump list: Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Nor does the president’s action limit travel from Pakistan, where al-Qaida’s leadership still resides.

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