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Clinton: Attacking Islam 'Plays Right Into ISIS' Hands'

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has described the mass shooting in Orlando as an act of terror and an example of radical Islamism. The former secretary of state has also asserted she will not "declare war on an entire religion."

On June 12, 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 at a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida. The massacre has drawn an outpouring of national grief and sharply divided reactions from the Democratic and Republican nominees.

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say,” Clinton told CNN. “And it mattered we got [Al-Qaida leader Osama] Bin Laden, not what name we called him. I have clearly said we -- whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I’m happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump stressed that describing the issue as radical Islamic terror is constructive. The business mogul has proposed a travel ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. and has suggested that thousands of Muslims in the U.S. are dangerous.

Trump has suggested President Barack Obama is a radical Islamic terrorist sympathizer because of his refusal to use the phrase, describing the president as “a man that is either not tough not smart, or he’s got something else in mind.”

Clinton has signaled she will not steadfastly refuse to use the term, but is firmly opposed to Trump’s stance.

“This was a terrorist attack,” the former secretary of state continued. “ISIS appears to be claiming credit for it, whether it had anything to do with it or not -- at a minimum, they seem to have inspired it.”

Clinton then repudiated Trump’s rhetoric, deeming it dangerous and counterproductive.

“What I won’t do, because I think it is dangerous for our efforts to defeat this threat, is to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion,” Clinton said. “That plays right into ISIS’ hands. I think that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is quite dangerous to our country.”

The presumed Democratic nominee called for bipartisan unity in addressing domestic terrorism, adding that enacting an assault weapons ban would lead to less high-scale fatalities.

Former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler of South Dakota announced that he would be endorsing Clinton due to her opposition to the National Rifle Association, Salon reports.

“Unfortunately the Republican candidate Trump has pledged publicly total cooperation with the NRA,” Pressler said in an official statement. “We cannot use as an excuse that, since this is ISIS-inspired, that [sic] we should not have more gun control -- at last, we must recognize that we need a president who will take on the NRA.”

Clinton has also called for broadening terror watch lists, citing that Mateen had a well-documented history of red flags that should have barred him from legally purchasing a firearm.

“This killer was interviewed by the FBI three times ... You know, someone comes to the attention of the FBI not once but three does, does that suggest that local law enforcement needs to know,” Clinton told NPR.

Clinton added that a broader terror watch list coupled with stricter background checks could prevent other domestic terrorist from acquiring firearms. She also slammed Trump again for his rhetoric.

“We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism ... The point is Trump goes way too far,” Clinton said. “He then demonizes Muslims -- American Muslims. He wants to ban all Muslims from everywhere in the world ... Americans need to know that Donald Trump’s words are being used in recruitment videos that ISIS is putting out.”

Sources: CNN, NPR, Salon / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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