DHS Chief: 'Vilifying Muslims' Risks 'Driving Them to a Place' Terror Groups Want

Johnson emphasized that "those of us who are students of history can learn from it."

"And those of us who don't know the mistakes of history are going to repeat them. And I do worry about a lot of the rhetoric, which has the effect of vilifying -- vilifying American Muslim communities here, which drives them in the exact opposite direction of where we want them to go in this country," he said. "I'm not referring to anything presidential candidates say. But I have before called it out when I hear it."

Johnson was asked about the TIME magainze op-ed earlier this month of Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who wrote that "this year, ISIS isn’t simply a passive observer of American politics," but is rooting for Donald Trump.

"I think we should be concerned about rhetoric that have the effect of isolating the American Muslim communities here, vilifying Muslims and driving them to a place that our enemies would like them to be to make them more susceptible to the recruitment effort," Johnson said.

Otherwise, the DHS chief said, "I'm not going to comment on what the candidates say specifically because I'm not supposed to."

Johnson acknowledged "sometimes that gets hard."

"I will say that when we hear rhetoric that is inflammatory, that strikes fear, that vilifies American Muslim communities, that is counter to our to our homeland security, national security efforts in the environment we're in, where we have to be concerned about homegrown violent extremists, that some of whom may find the appeals of the Islamic State to be something that they are drawn to," he added. "And so when we vilify American Muslims and we say you're different from all the rest of us, that's exactly what terrorist organizations want them to hear."