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Are ISIS 'Islamic Radical Terrorists'? Kerry Says 'Many, Not All' Are

Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) at today's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing whether he would define ISIS as "Islamic radical terrorists."

"Well, I think many of them are. Not all of them. But many of them are. And certainly, the top leadership, al-Baghdadi and folks around him, are formulating their concept of the caliphate -- of the caliphate on the basis of their interpretation of Islam," Kerry said.

"To the degree they are establishing a caliphate and hanging some of their notions of -- of organization and discipline and -- and -- and battle based on that, there is a component of it that is a distorted sense of -- of -- of Islam."

And more:

"But also, there're a lot of criminals and thugs and adventurers and thrill-seekers and -- involved in this. There's a kind of criminal anarchy in all of it, notwithstanding whatever basis they want to claim with respect to Islam.

And -- and it is important in coming at this that you not empower them through the language we use to be able to make the argument to their people that, in fact, we're at war with Islam and they're building that up as a recruitment tool and we create our own problem. I think that's what people are trying to be sensitive to here.

Now, when you get into the deep analysis, yes, there are clearly very distorted sense of radical extreme Islam being put forward. The victims are anybody who stands in their way or people who are different or who have different beliefs. They can be Christians. They can be Yazidis. They can be officers and police officers who are Sunni and -- and trying to stand up for their village or their town, in Mosul.

I mean, they go out and kill the mayor. They kill young kids. They'll kill, you know, people they think are apostates."

Kerry was also asked why ISIS does what it does.

"They do this for power and for the extension of their -- the leaders for their misguided notion of their caliphate and their desire to be the power that is defining not only their version of Islam but to have the power within that region to run the show," he said.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Kerry to "define ISIL."

"Well, ISIS is self-defining. They are the combatants and those who have pledged allegiance to them who have formed a caliphate, fly a flag, wear their black uniforms and are engaged in a struggle both within Syria and Iraq, most directly, but also in what they call distant provinces as they try to establish their caliphate," Kerry replied.