Kerry in Paris: Charlie Hebdo Attack Had 'Rationale' to 'Aggrieve One Particular Sense of Wrong'

Secretary of State John Kerry told employees at the U.S. Embassy in Paris this morning that Friday's attacks were more senseless than the Charlie Hebdo assault because there was some "rationale" for slaughtering the staff of the magazine that drew Mohammad caricatures.

Kerry began by thanking the French locals who staff the U.S. Embassy. "We could not do our work here without you, and I know it's particularly difficult right now, but it's always difficult because you are working, carrying with you whatever baggage comes with the country you work for, and in our case, there's very little because of our friendship with France," he said. "But nevertheless, we are deeply appreciative for your commitment to helping us to help people to share the values and the interests that we are all working to protect."

"In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There's something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of -- not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they're really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn't to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That's not an exaggeration."

Kerry continued, "It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, 'Here we are.' And for what? What's the platform? What's the grievance? That we're not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it's indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn't them and doesn't pledge to be that. And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I've ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism -- I mean, you name it."

The secretary of State said he understands those who peacefully want to resolve conflict with the terrorists, but "this is not a situation where we have a choice."

"We're trying to avoid it. We're trying to find a better path," Kerry said of war. "But it's non-state actors -- individuals, lone wolves and groups, small groups -- and if somebody is willing to die -- if you want to go die on any given day, unfortunately, you can take some people with you. So our challenge is to stop the immediate threat, obviously, and destroy it, while we eliminate the people going into the pool by providing those other options -- by reaching them before they're radicalized; by getting people to see there is better governance, there are better opportunities."

Kerry later met with French President Francois Hollande, where he said the two "talked about the significant steps that we believe we can take together in a number of different areas to increase our efforts and be more effective even against Daesh."

"We've agreed even to exchange more information, and I'm convinced that over the course of the next weeks, Daesh will feel even greater pressure," Kerry added, using the Arabic pejorative acronym for ISIS yet pronouncing it wrong. "They're feeling it today. They felt it yesterday. They've felt it in the past weeks. We've gained more territory; Daesh has less territory. We've taken out leaders. We've liberated significant communities -- Tikrit, Baiji refinery, communities in Syria, the -- three-quarters of the border of northern Syria is now under the control, is taken away from Daesh. We will be working with Turkey to close the last portion."