Democratic presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton on Saturday slammed Donald Trump’s recent comments about banning Muslim immigrants, saying the Republican front-runner was “becoming ISIS’s best recruiter”.
“He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists,” she said.
She said that “it was not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.”
Trump, 69, was among the top issue being debated at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire. Other Republican candidates hardly figured in the debate, thus reflecting that all of them consider him as their main rival.
“I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the US and literally around the world that there is a ‘clash of civilisations,’ that there is some kind of Western plot or even ‘war against Islam,’ which then I believe fans the flames of radicalisation,” she alleged.
Slamming Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric including his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US, 68-year-old Clinton said the first line of defence against radicalisation is in Muslim-American community.
“Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make think there are easy answers to very complex questions,” she said.
“We need to be united against the threats that we face. We need to have everybody in our country focused on watching what happens and reporting it if it’s suspicious, reporting what you hear. Making sure that Muslim Americans don’t feel left out or marginalised at the very moment when we need their help,” she said.
Clinton asserted that the Muslim community needs to be befriended not demonized.
“We must work more closely with Muslim-American communities. I met with a group of Muslim-Americans this past week to hear from them about what they’re doing to try to stop radicalisation. They will be our early warning signal. That’s why we need to work with them, not demonize them, as the Republicans have been doing,” Clinton said.
Martin O’Malley, another Democratic presidential candidate, alleged that Trump is incompetent.
“We need to speak to what unites us as a people; freedom of worship, freedom of religion, freedom of expression. And we should never be convinced to give up those freedoms in exchange for a promise of greater security; especially from someone as untried and as incompetent as Trump,” he said.
“I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let’s create an America that works for all of us, not the handful on top,” said Bernie Sanders, who is seeking Democratic presidential nominee.
During the debate, Clinton even praised former president George W Bush, saying he reached out to Muslim Americans and told them that ‘you are our partner’.
Identifying ISIS as a major threat to the US, Clinton claimed that she has a plan to defeat this terrorist outfit which now controls a large part of Syria and Iraq.
“We now finally are where we need to be. We have a strategy and a commitment to go after ISIS, which is a danger to us as well as the region,” Clinton said during the debate.
“I have a plan that I’ve put forward to go after ISIS. Not to contain them, but to defeat them,” she said.
“First, to go after them and deprive them of the territory they occupy now in both Syria and Iraq. Secondly, to go after and dismantle their global network of terrorism. And thirdly, to do more to keep us safe,” she said.
Sanders and O’Malley agreed with her on threat posed by the ISIS, but differed on the approach to be adopted for this.
Clinton, who was the Secretary of State when US troops stormed a safe hideout in Abbottabad in Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, asserted that Americans would go anywhere in the world to attack terrorist groups.
“We’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond,” she said.
Sanders, the Senator from Vermont, argued that the US needs help from other countries to defeat ISIS.
“I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations,” he said.
Clinton agreed with Sanders on a coalition against ISIS, saying “I agree with him about that. We’ve got to build a coalition abroad. We also have to build a coalition at home. Abroad, we need a coalition that is going to take on ISIS.”
Arguing that this is a war for the soul of Islam, Sanders said the troops on the ground should not be American troops.
“They should be Muslim troops. I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have got to step up to the plate, have got to contribute the money that we need, and the troops that we need, to destroy ISIS with American support,” he said.
Clinton said the situation with regard to ISIS is different from that of Afghanistan. “We have to support Sunni- Arab and Kurdish forces against ISIS, because I believe it would be not only a strategic mistake for the US to put ground combat troops in, as opposed to special operators, as opposed to trainers, because that is exactly what ISIS wants.”
“I think it’s absolutely wrong policy for us to be even imagining we’re going end up putting tens of thousands of American troops into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS,” she added.
Clinton’s remarks were soon criticised by Republican presidential candidates and their party.
“No,” tweeted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. “We are not ‘where we need to be’ in fight against ISIS.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus alleged that Clinton once again proved inconsistent on the issues and out-of-touch with the American people.
“Clinton’s assertion that we are ‘where we need to be’ on ISIS in the wake of the San Bernardino and Paris attacks shows a complete disconnect with reality and is completely out-of- touch with the American people,” he said in a statement.
Trump took to social media to criticise her. “She knows that I am her worst nightmare,” he tweeted.