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Ex-CIA chief says Trump recruits ISIL militants

In an interview with Al Jazeera English’s UpFront, Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, accused Donald Trump of having “already made Americans less safe” with his anti-Islam rhetoric.

“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 [the ISIL] narrative of undying enmity,” he told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan.

Asked if Trump could therefore be described “as a recruiting sergeant” for groups such as ISIL and Al Qaeda, Hayden replied: “Yes.”

The retired U.S. general, who ran the NSA and then the CIA under President George W. Bush, also referred to Ted Cruz’s recent proposal “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods” as “very dangerous.”

“We don’t have radicalized communities in the United States,” Hayden explained. “We have some radicalized individuals, but we have it fully within our ability to create radicalized communities, and that kind of rhetoric [by Cruz]… actually bends you in the direction of radicalizing communities.”


On the subject of the ongoing Hillary Clinton email controversy, the former NSA director said, “What she did was wrong,” her “explanations… are incoherent” and “it was a terrible mistake.” However, he added, “whether or not it represents a crime, I’ll let the American justice system decide.”

Asked if he believed foreign intelligence agencies had hacked into, and taken possession, of Clinton’s private emails, Hayden replied: “Yeah. And by the way, I would move heaven and earth as the director of NSA to get the unclassified emails of several foreign ministers.”

Hayden said that he “would lose respect for scores of intelligence organizations around the planet if they weren’t already thumbing through the emails.”

This UpFront interview with Michael Hayden airs Friday, 1 April 2016 on Al Jazeera at 19:30 GMT / 21:30 CAT and will be available to watch and embed on YouTube afterwards.

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