In the wake of last weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey and stabbings at a Minnesota mall, Donald Trump offered harsh words for the Afghan immigrant arrested in connection with the bombings, as well as for those who would support similar acts.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, offered her harshest words for Donald Trump, accusing him of giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy and declaring that his rhetoric helps groups such as ISIS recruit new fighters.
The New York bombings were obvious acts of terrorism, likely with a foreign connection. The Minnesota stabbings appear to be the same, although the assailant’s connection to terror groups remains murky. Dahir Adnan, the accused attacker in the stabbings, was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the bombings, was arrested after a shoot-out with police.
Rahami, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen originally from Afghanistan, had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, and returned to Pakistan two years later, staying there until March 2014. His father had called the FBI two years ago to report Rahami as a terrorist after he had stabbed a family member, but when agents from the bureau went to speak with him again, he recanted his accusations. When Rahami was arrested after the shoot-out, he was carrying a bullet hole-scarred notebook filled with al-Qaida and jihadist-related writings, including threats to the United States and a prayer for martyrdom.
During a rally in Florida, Mr. Trump called for a swift response to the bombings and aggressive action to prevent similar events. He insists that the United States should “use whatever lawful methods are available” to get information from Rahami.
“We must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people,” he said. “These are enemies, these are combatants and we have to be tough, we have to be strong.”
During a news conference outside of her campaign plane, Mrs. Clinton, a former secretary of state, touted her national security credentials, deriding Mr. Trump for using the attacks to make some kind of demagogic point.
“I’m the only candidate in this race who’s been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters. “I know how to do this.”
Mrs. Clinton played a central role in an administration that shudders at the mere mention of Islamic extremism. Neither candidate can offer some magic formula that will put an end to the random and deadly attacks that have plagued the country in recent months. But at least Mr. Trump acknowledges the source of the problem — radical Islam — and understands that the United States must confront it head on.