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Kerry: Terrorists in Syria, Iraq 'Thinking About How They Can Hurt People... in the United States'

3:18 PM, Jun 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows recently with her assertion that the five Taliban commanders transferred to Qatar in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are "not a threat to the United States." John Kerry, in remarks Thursday to the U.S. Embassy staff in London, seemed to take issue with Clinton's assessment on the relative danger posed to the United States by terrorists in foreign lands [emphasis added]:

[W]e’re living in an era – a tectonic shift, a moment of extraordinary change. And our interests are at stake everywhere.
That’s what I want to reinforce in you. There’s no us and them, over there, over here, and you’re safe. We’re all connected to what’s going on. Terrorists in Syria today, in Iraq today are thinking about how they can hurt people in London or Paris or Berlin or even in the United States. And they don’t offer anything else to their people. They’re not offering an education plan, they’re not offering – well, actually, it’s do what we tell you. Read one book and that’s it, and you live by it. But they’re not offering a broad-based set of opportunities and education. They don’t talk about building their country, they don’t have healthcare, nothing. That’s what we’re struggling with.

In an interview at The Hague in 2009, Clinton herself seemed more concerned about the direct threat posed to the United States by the Taliban than her recent remarks would indicate:

QUESTION: President Obama just last week was talking about the Taliban and al-Qaida. He said that they are regenerating and they’re a threat to the United States and to its allies. And just today we had the head of the Pakistan Taliban making a threat against directly the United States, in fact, Washington, D.C. – Baitullah Mehsud saying he’s planning a terrorist attack that would “amaze the world.” What can you tell us about that? Do you know how serious it is and could the Taliban actually mount such a threat? 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, remember that leaders of the Taliban are in a syndicate relationship with al-Qaida. They are allies, they depend upon one another. Al-Qaida provides planning, logistical, financial support. The Taliban provides a safe haven. So it’s a totally interconnected relationship. So what we respond to something like that is to make clear that threats like that will be dealt with. We will be obviously vigilant and prepared. But it illustrates exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing. Anybody who thinks we can walk away from Afghanistan and Pakistan and the border area is forgetting it happened on September 11th, 2001. I was a Senator from New York. I don’t forget. I know what these people are capable of doing. And we’ve kept them at bay and we’re going to dismantle them, disrupt and defeat them.  

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