US Secretary of State John Kerry came under fire for comments he made in Paris on Tuesday that appeared to explain the rationale driving the terrorists who attacked the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris in January.
Arriving in Paris from the G20 summit in Turkey, Kerry — the first senior Obama administration official to visit France since the terror attacks on Friday in which at least 129 people were killed and more than 250 wounded — compared the two attacks and said the Charlie Hebdo attack, in which terrorists killed 11 people in January, had a clearer “rationale” than the more recent attacks.
“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry said. “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,’” he continued. “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 was speaking to staff in the American embassy in Paris.
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush later read aloud Kerry’s comments during a campaign stop in South Carolina and accused the secretary of state of empathizing with “barbaric” terrorists.
“There should be no empathy and there’s no rationale for barbaric Islamic terrorists who want to destroy Western civilization,” he said.
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, also a Republican, tweeted: “’I’m calling on Secretary Kerry to apologize for these offensive remarks. Terrorism is terrorism.”
New York State Governor George Pataki, who announced his candidacy for president in May, called on Kerry to resign following the comments.
“John Kerry should immediately resign or be fired. Saying there was a rationale for the Charlie hebdo massacre is inexcusable,” he tweeted.