Former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said Donald Trump’s campaign speeches are aiding the recruitment efforts of the Islamic State and other terror groups.
Speaking to Al Jazeera for an interview to be broadcast later this week, the retired four-star general said the GOP presidential front-runner is fanning the flames of international terrorism each time he previews his foreign policy plans.
“The fundamental narrative of ISIS, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabab and so on is that there is undying enmity between Islamic and the western world,” Gen. Hayden said in an excerpt from the interview published online by Al Jazeera on Tuesday, using an acronym for the terror group also known as Islamic State and ISIL.
“When Mr. Trump says some of the things that he has said — ‘They all hate us, we shouldn’t let any of those people in our country’ — what he does is underscore and underpin the fundamentals of their narrative of undying enmity,” Gen. Hayden said.
When asked by Al Jazeera’s presenter if Mr. Trump could be described as a “recruiting sergeant” for terror groups, Gen. Hayden responded with a resonating “Yes.”
“You don’t have to be president — you don’t have to get to be president — for that kind of statement from someone so prominent in the American political system to have already made Americans less safe,” Gen. Hayden said.
The former intel chief’s remarks were made on the heels of reports regarding a purported Islamic State propaganda video in which Mr. Trump is seen discussing the group’s recent assault on the Belgian capital that claimed 35 lives.
“Brussels was one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities of the world 20 years ago,” Mr. Trump says in a clip included in the video. “It was amazing, actually, and safe. And now, it’s a horror show, an absolute horror show.”
Gen. Hayden served as NSA director from 1999 to 2005 before running the CIA for three years under the administration of President George W. Bush.
Earlier this week, Gen. Hayden described the presidential hopeful as “erratic” during an interview with Politico, and said he believes Mr. Trump would pose more of a problem for national security issues than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if he were to beat out the presumptive Democratic nominee for the White House come November.
“I just don’t know what it is he’s going to do,” Gen. Hayden said.