Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton presented a speech on counterterrorism at Stanford University on Wednesday in response to the devastating attacks in Brussels, Belgium the day before.
“Walls will not protect us from this threat,” Clinton said, indirectly referring to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump has stated his intention to build a wall near the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants, as well as Islamic radicals that may come in their midst.
America can’t “hide behind walls,” Clinton stated.
Cautious not to use the word “border,” she said that “nations have to secure their own communities. We can, and I argue, must support them. But we can’t substitute for them.” She continued that “we cannot contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS. This will be one of the most important challenges facing the president.”
Last year, Just one day before the deadly Islamic State-backed attacks on Paris in November, President Obama went on the record to state that the terrorist group is not getting “stronger” in Syria and that they have actually been “contained” there.
Echoing President Obama’s non-interventionist ideology, she stated that “it would be a serious mistake to stumble into another costly ground war in the Middle East.” Instead, she suggested stepping up support for local Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. A
Earlier in her speech, Clinton had mentioned the need to focus on fostering a stronger alliance with Silicon Valley to strengthen the online pushback against jihadists. Again, she took aim at her GOP competitors.
“When other candidates talk about building walls around America, I want to ask them: ‘How high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out?'”
On home-grown terrorism, Clinton said that “there also has to be a special emphasis on identifying and investing in the hotspots; the specific neighborhoods, prisons and schools where recruitment happens in clusters, as we’ve seen in Brussels.”
Noting the importance of creating “safe areas” within Syria where nationals “could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe,” she emphasized that in the meantime the United States should not shut its own doors to refugees, and noted that it would also be incorrect to “apply religious tests for people fleeing persecution. That’s not who we are.” She insisted that applicants for refugee status would go through a “rigorous screening process,”
In addition, Clinton called out “offensive, inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes all Muslims” blasting her GOP rivals.
“There are millions of peace-loving Muslims living, working, raising families and paying taxes in this country. These Americans are a crucial line of defense against terrorism. They are the most likely to recognize the warning signs of radicalization before it’s too late. And the best positioned to block it.”
Two of the three suspected terrorists responsible for Wednesday’s jihadi attacks were brothers who were born and lived in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb located in the nation’s northwest region, and a known “no-go zone” and recruitment hotbed for terrorists. Both men were also French citizens.
The third terrorist suspect was a Belgian man who left to live in Syria one year ago.
The “next president will find a world of hard choices,” Clinton said.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.