King Abdullah on Refugee Risks: 'There Are Trojan Horses in There'

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said that his country, which has absorbed more than a million Syrians fleeing the civil war, understands more than anyone the concerns about vetting refugees.

“There are Trojan horses in there. We definitely know that,” Abdullah, when asked about GOP campaign-trail statements about Muslim immigrants, told CNN during a visit to the U.S.  “And so you have to be careful about the screening. But, at the same time, we can’t probably let the 80 percent of other refugees or the 90 percent of the other refugees suffer at the same time.”

“So it’s always got to be a balance of your moral code of being able to look after people that are in plight to the balance of security. And this is something that we always have to deal with.”

The king said Jordan is under “tremendous pressure” from NGOs to admit “12,000 or 14,000 refugees across our border on the eastern side that have not been allowed to come in, except for very strict screening.”

“Part of the problem is they’ve come from the north of Syria, from Raqqa, which is the heartland of where ISIS is,” he explained. “We know that there are ISIS members inside those camps.”

Abdullah said Jordan has been able to vet 50 to 100 refugees per day.

“We’ve had this comment given to us by the United States, that you need to allow these refugees into the country. So we’re going back to the United States, where these comments have been made, saying, ‘Look, we understand. We are trying to bring these people in.’ But we’re trying to make sure that the mechanisms that we put in place, make sure — it’s never going to be foolproof, but we’re going to try and make it as sterile as possible,” Abdullah said.

“You know, we’re accepting 50 to 100 every day from an area that we know there’s a major danger. Obviously, it’s those that are ill, the elderly, women and children. I know some people could be callous and say, ‘Well, let all the women in,’ but as we saw in California and we’ve seen in Paris recently, women unfortunately, have been part of terrorist organizations and terror strikes,” the Hashemite king added.

“But we can’t ignore and just keep refugees isolated. So you’ve just got to be smart. And you’ve got to think with the heart.”

Pressed on a specific reaction to Donald Trump’s comments, the monarch said it was unfair “for you to ask a foreign leader to express his opinion on candidates in your country running for election.”

On President Obama’s State of the Union assertion that the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups isn’t World War III, Abdullah said “the war against the outlaws of Islam is a Third World War by other means, which is probably slightly different.”

“How I explain it, it’s not just ISIS. All these groups, whether they’re from the Philippines, or Indonesia, all the way to Mali, these are all the same, whether it’s ISIS, Boko Haram, Shabaab, al Nusra, wherever you find them around the world, and again, as I said, from Asia all the way to the African continent,” he said.

“There is either a full-out war of counterinsurgency warfare. This is a global struggle that brings, as I’ve said, many times, Muslims, Christians, Jews, other religions fighting alongside us as we fight our civil war inside Islam.”

Abdullah stressed it’s a “generational war” with three steps: “Hopefully, the military security aspect is a short-term — or the military part is the short- term. The mid-term is going to be the intelligence and security aspect. The long-term is the ideological one and the educational one.”

“That’s a generational one, not only inside of Islam as we regain, we as Muslims, regain the supremacy against the crazies, the outlaws of our religion, but also reaching out to other religions that Islam is not what they have seen being perpetuated by 0.1 percent of our religion,” he added.

The king said Jordan wants to increase the strikes against the Islamic State, and visited D.C. to meet with Pentagon officials because “it comes down to this issue of synchronization.”