'Terrorists don't worship God, they worship death' - Trump in Saudi Arabia

  • 22/05/2017

US President Donald Trump has called on Middle Eastern leaders to combat a "crisis of Islamic extremism" emanating from the region, casting the fight against terrorism as a "battle between good and evil", not a clash between the West and Islam.

Mr Trump spoke on Sunday during a meeting of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia. The speech was the centrepiece of Mr Trump's two-day visit to the country as part of his first overseas trip.

Mr Trump is putting the onus for combatting terrorism on the region and imploring Muslim leaders to aggressively fight extremists. He'll attend the opening of a Global Centre for Combatting Extremist Ideology later on Sunday.

Mr Trump spoke of "the crisis of Islamic extremists," "the Islamists" and "Islamic terror of all kinds".

But he did not use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism".

Donald Trump (Reuters)
Donald Trump (Reuters)

As a presidential candidate, Mr Trump routinely railed against former President Barack Obama and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for failing to use the specific phrase, insisting that: "Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country."

In his speech, Mr Trump said Syrian President Bashar Assad had committed "unspeakable crimes" bolstered by Iran. He called upon countries around the world to work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Mr Trump denounced Iranian aggression in the region, and said that the "longest-suffering victims" are the Iranian people.

The Iranian people have "endured hardship and despair under their leaders' reckless pursuit of conflict and terror", he said.

Mr Trump said every nation must shoulder the burden of rooting our terrorism from their countries.

"Every nation has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no quarter on their soil."

Mr Trump said terrorist groups "do nothing to inspire but kill". He said "terrorists don't worship God, they worship death".

The US President said the overwhelming majority of victims of terrorist attacks were the "innocent people of the Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations".

He said the US sought a "coalition of nations" in the Middle East with the aim of "stamping out extremism".

Mr Trump promised "that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit cooperation and trust".

The Saudi view

Before Mr Trump spoke, King Salman of Saudi Arabia said he was committed to stamping out the Islamic State group and other terrorist organisations.

He also railed against Iran, calling it "the spearhead of global terrorism".

Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, US President Donald Trump, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (Reuters)
Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, US President Donald Trump, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (Reuters)

"Our responsibility before God and our people and the whole world is to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism wherever they are ... The Iranian regime represents the tip of the spear of global terrorism."

The king also said in a televised speech on Sunday that Saudi Arabia would not be lenient in trying anyone who finances terrorism.

"We will never be lenient in trying anyone who finances terrorism, in any way or means, to the full force of the law."

Palestinians not impressed

The Islamist Palestinian group which controls the Gaza Strip has rejected Mr Trump's linking it to terrorism, and says his description of the group shows his "complete bias" towards Israel.

"The statement describing Hamas as a terror group is rejected and is a distortion of our image and shows a complete bias to the Zionist occupation [Israel]," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

Reuters / Newshub.