Tags: Trump Administration | Donald Trump | GOP2016 | Homeland Security | ISIS/Islamic State | Ted Cruz | jeh johnson

Jeh Johnson: 'Inflammatory Comments' About Muslims 'Counterproductive'

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016 08:21 AM

Inflammatory comments being made about Muslims by GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are "counterproductive" to the country's national security interests, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday.

"I think that, in this phase, it is critical that we build bridges to American-Muslim communities, not vilify them, not drive them into the shadows and encourage them to work with us," Johnson told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. Johnson's statements are in reaction to those made by Cruz following the attacks in Brussels, advocating for U.S. monitoring and patrolling the nation's Muslim communities.

And when pressed by show host Joe Scarborough, Johnson admitted he thought such comments, and others made by Trump calling for a temporary ban on allowing Muslims to come in, are detrimental to the security efforts underway.

"I believe that inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests," Johnson said.

But Johnson said he does agree with Cruz, who has responded to critics by saying it's important to focus counterterrorism efforts on places where radicalization could occur, that it's important to understand your enemy and its motivations.

However, efforts are being made to build bridges to America's Muslim communities, as the Islamic State is targeting people in them to carry out attacks on the nation's homelands.

"We spend a lot of time working with Muslim communities, American-Muslim communities . . . to help them help us in our homeland security efforts," said Johnson, and he has discovered that American Muslims are "very patriotic people and want to be part of the fabric of our nation."

Johnson, though, disagreed with a contention from show co-host Mika Brzezinski that President Barack Obama "certainly seems to not be too concerned" about terror attacks such as the ones in Brussels coming to the United States.

"He is continually updated and briefed on the world situation," said Johnson. "While we do not know of a specific, credible piece of [intelligence] about a plot of the Belgian-type here in the United States, we continue to be very concerned about terrorist-inspired acts that could be carried out here in the homeland."

And ISIS has made calls for attacks in the United States, and incidents that have occurred in San Bernardino, Chattanooga, and the attempt in Texas last year "reflect the new era that we're in," he continued.

"The FBI has made a number of arrests of those who have been inspired by ISIL's calls and al-Qaida's calls. That's what we're focused on right now."

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Inflammatory comments being made about Muslims by GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are "counterproductive" to the country's national security interests, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday.
jeh johnson, cruz, trump, inflammatory, comments, muslims, counterproductive
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2016-21-29
Tuesday, 29 Mar 2016 08:21 AM
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