Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday that if he’s elected president he would send back Syrian refugees taken in by the United States (US) because they may be the self-styled Islamic State (IS) militants in disguise.
The billionaire businessman, who is leading early opinion polls, said during an hour-long speech ─ which included several profanities ─ that he was worried the refugees, who have been fleeing their country after years of civil war, could be IS militants looking to get into the US.
“I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration,” Trump said during an evening rally in Keene, New Hampshire. “If I win, they’re going back.”
Trump, who questioned both the number of men in their ranks and why Syrians were fleeing their country instead of staying and fighting.
“This could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army, maybe,” he later added. “That could be possible.”
Millions of Syrians, many risking their lives in crowded boats and rafts, have been fleeing a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people since March 2011.
As many as 9 million people have been displaced, including more than 4m who have fled the country, according to the United Nations.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced earlier this month that the US would significantly increase the number of migrants it takes in over the next two years, with 85,000 refugees from around the world allowed in next year and up to 100,000 in 2017.
That’s less than some have urged, but as many, he said, as the US can handle given post-September 11 screening requirements and a lack of resources.
Other countries, such as Germany, are accepting far more.
Trump is not the first lawmaker to raise alarms about the potential of the IS group and other terrorist organisations using the refugee crisis to try to enter the US or Europe.