US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on Monday sent out a strong message to terrorism and terrorists while addressing the terror attacks in New York and New Jersey over the weekend. She is expected to gain some much-needed electoral support with the speech she delivered before boarding her campaign plane.
Clinton has been quite stern when talking about terrorism, but never as right-wing as her opponent, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had earlier said he would simply deny Muslims entry into the country if he became president.
Read the full transcript of Clinton's speech and the subsequent question-and-answer session here:
I want to start by offering my full support to our state, local and federal law enforcement as they continue to respond to the attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota and bring those responsible to justice.
I've talked with Mayor De Blasio. Our team has been in close touch with authorities in New York.
We know they're doing everything they possibly can to keep us safe in this dangerous situation. I've also spoken to the governor of Minnesota.
Like all Americans, my thoughts are with those who were wounded, their families and our brave first responders. This threat is real, but so is our resolve. Americans will not cower, we will prevail. We will defend our country and we will defeat the evil, twisted ideology of the terrorists.
I'm the only candidate in this race who has been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield. And I've laid out a comprehensive plan to meet the evolving nature of this threat and take the fight to Isis everywhere they threaten us, including online. I'm grateful to have support and advice from a wide range of bipartisan national security leaders who've worked with both Democratic and Republican presidents.
When we met together earlier this month in New York, one of the points they emphasized was the need to support state and local law enforcement, who act as our first line of defense, making sure they have the resources, the training and intelligence they need to effectively prevent and respond to terror attacks. And this weekend's events underscored how important that is.
We should also launch an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out. We need to work more closely with Silicon Valley and other partners to counter terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts online. And it is crucial that we continue to build up trust between law enforcement and Muslim-American communities.
In the Middle East, we have to smash Isis' strongholds with an accelerated coalition air campaign, more support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground and intense diplomatic efforts in Syria, Iraq and across the region.
Working closely with our allies and partners to keep us safe must be the top priority for our next commander-in-chief. Later today, I'll discuss the threat from terrorism with President el-Sisi of Egypt and other world leaders.
Most of all, I want to say this to my fellow Americans. Let us be vigilant, but not afraid. We have faced threats before. If you see something, or you hear something, report it immediately to local law enforcement authorities. I know we will meet this new danger with the same courage and vigilance. We choose resolve, not fear. We will not turn on each other or undermine our values. We'll stand together because we are stronger together in the face of this threat and every other challenge.
Be glad to take some questions.
Question: The person of interest in this case (ph) is an Afghan immigrant, now U.S. citizens. What do you say to voters who may see this as a reason to consider supporting Trump's approach to terror and immigration?
Clinton: Well, it is true that a suspect of interest has been identified and we need to do everything we can to support law enforcement as they track him down to determine what role if any he played in these events.
But let us remember, there are millions and millions of naturalized citizens in America from all over the world. There are millions of law-abiding peaceful Muslim-Americans. This is the kind of challenge that law enforcement can be and is prepared to address, namely going after anyone who would threaten the United States.
So I am absolutely in favor of and have long been an advocate for tough vetting, for making sure that we don't let people into this country — and not just people who come here to settle, but we need a better visa system. Let's remember what happened on 9/11. These were not refugees who got into airplanes and attacked our city and our country. So let's not get diverted and distracted by the kind of campaign rhetoric we hear coming from the other side.
This is a serious challenge, we are well-equipped to meet it, and we can do so in keeping with smart law enforcement, good intelligence and in concert with our values.
Question: Secretary Clinton, the White House has labeled these lone wolf attacks a top concern, and given these weekend events, what more specifically should be done?
And what would you do specifically beyond what President Obama has done? Is the current plan enough?
Clinton: I think that the lone-wolf problem is one that we have to invest more time and more resources into combating.
When I met with the distinguished group national security experts, as I said — both Democratic and Republican administration experiences — they made a very strong point that the recruitment and radicalization that goes on online has to be much more vigorously intercepted and prevented. I have been saying this for quite some time, and I believe it's an important part of our strategy.
The other point they made is that the recruiters for Isis and these other terrorist groups look for people who online demonstrate the mental profile, the level of paranoia, the level of delusion, the level of disappointment that then is exploited by quite able terrorist recruiters. So we've got to do a much more intensive effort, and that's why I mentioned Silicon Valley in my remarks, not only to take down terrorist propaganda but to do everything we can to intercept and prevent radicalization and recruitment.
And I think we are at the beginning of that, but there's much more we need to do, and the government cannot do this without the close participation of tech companies and experts online who can give us the tools and lead us to those who are attempting to promote attacks like we've seen.
Question: Are you concerned that this weekend's attacks or potential incidents in the coming weeks might be an attempt by Isis or Isis sympathizers or really any other group, maybe it's Russian, to influence the presidential race in some way and presumably try to drive votes to Donald Trump, who, as you've said before, widely seen as perhaps being somebody who they would be more willing to — or see as an easier person to be against?
Clinton: Well, Jennifer, I don't want to speculate, but here's what we know, and I think it's important for voters to hear this and weigh it in making their choice in November. We know that a lot of the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular Isis, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists, people who number in the maybe tens of thousands, not but tens of millions.
They want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause by turning it into a religious conflict. That's why I've been very clear; we're going after the bad guys and we're going to get them, but we're not going to go after an entire religion and give Isis exactly what it's wanting in order for them to enhance their position.
Secondly, we know that Donald Trump's comments have been used online for recruitment of terrorists. We've heard that from former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who made it a very clear point when he said Donald Trump is being used as a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists. We also know from the former head of our Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen, that the kinds of rhetoric and language that Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries.
Now look, as I said in my remarks, I'm the only candidate in this race who's been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battle field. What does that mean? I was part of the national security team that worked with President Obama to develop strategies to fight the terrorists. Sometimes that involved direct kinetic action, sometimes that involved working with allies and partners, sometimes that involved capture.
I won't get into classified information, but I have sat at that table in the Situation Room. I've analyzed the threats. I've contributed to actions that have neutralized our enemies. I know how to do this and I understand how we don't want this to get even bigger than it already is.
Clinton: So we're going to stay focused on what will work and how we deploy a strategy that will protect America, work with our allies and partners to take Isis down, and have a strong counterterrorism effort online in order to try to defeat the ideology that stands behind these terrorist attacks.
Question: Secretary Clinton, as you know, Donald Trump has had a lot to say about your record on this issue over the weekend. Here's one example: "Under the leadership of Obama and Clinton, Americans have experienced more attacks at home than victories abroad. Time to change the playbook."
What's your reaction to that characterisation?
Clinton: Well, it's like so much else he says. It's not grounded in facts. It's, you know, meant to make some kind of demagogic point.
And — and the facts are pretty clear: that, you know, we still have challenges. That's what I have been talking about throughout this campaign. I am prepared to, ready to actually take on those challenges. Not engage in a lot of, you know, irresponsible, reckless rhetoric, but to do the hard work, as I've done before, to put into place the strategies for local and state law enforcement, for an intelligence surge, for the kind of preventive actions that we need to take here at home, and to intensify our efforts to defeat Isis.
You don't hear a plan from him. He keeps saying he has a secret plan. Well, the secret is he has no plan.
So let's focus on what we really can do. And what I've laid out is a path forward that will keep us safer, protect our country and go after the terrorists to finally destroy them.