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Sun 20 Dec 2015 10:56 AM

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'Trump is helping ISIL to recruit fighters,' says Clinton

Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders says Saudi, Qatar should refocus funding towards fighting Islamic militants

'Trump is helping ISIL to recruit fighters,' says Clinton
US Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the Democratic Presidential Debate hosted by ABC News at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on December 19, 2015. (AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s proposed ban on allowing Muslim immigrants to travel to the US is being used by ISIL to recruit more “radical jihadists”, according to Hilary Clinton.

The former US Secretary of State, speaking during the Democratic presidential debate, said Trump’s comments have been used to lure more recruits for the terrorist group.

“He is becoming ISIL’s best recruiter,” Clinton claimed. “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

She said closer relations with the Muslim American community “will be our early warning signal” against possible terrorist attacks.

“That’s why we need to work with them, not demonise them, as the Republicans have been doing,” Clinton said.

She went on to say that in the wake of the massacres in Paris and California, supporters of Trump’s plan “are understandably reacting out of fear and anxiety about what they're seeing”.

“Mr Trump has a great capacity to use bluster and bigotry to inflame people and to make them think there are easy answers to very complex questions,” she said.

“We need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears,” she added.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the other leading candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, speaking about the fight against ISIL, said he didn’t want the US to be the “the policemen of the world” and didn’t want American ground troops to enter the battle.

“The troops on the ground should not be American troops, they should be Muslim troops. I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar need to step up to the plate,” Sanders said. 

When it was put him that this has been tried repeatedly by the current US administration, Sanders said he would “make it work”.

“To tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on earth are going to have to go to war with ISIL,” Sanders said. 

“To tell Qatar, that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIL, which is at their doorstep,” Sanders added.

Clinton also voiced her opposition to ground troops being sent to Iraq and Syria.

“That is exactly what ISIL wants,” she said. “They've advertised that, they want American troops back in the Middle East, they want American soldiers on the ground fighting them, giving them many more targets and giving them a great recruiting opportunity.”

Sanders, seeking to bite into Clinton’s big lead in polls of Democratic voters, criticised her for supporting the speedy departure of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who has resisted all diplomatic efforts to leave power with a civil war raging in his country and swathes of territory controlled by ISIL.

“Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be,” Sanders said during the ABC debate. “Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIL. Regime change is easy. Getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after,” said Sanders, a democratic socialist.

Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, rejected the criticism and pointed out that Sanders as a US senator from Vermont had voted “for regime change with respect to Libya” in 2011.

“We will not get the support on the ground in Syria to dislodge ISIL if the fighters there - who are not associated with ISIL, but whose principal goal is getting rid of Assad - don’t believe there is a political diplomatic channel that is ongoing. We now have that,” Clinton said.

“It’s very important we operate on both at the same time.”

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