Careful not to go so far as saying he "justified" President Donald Trump's recent attempt to institute a travel ban from seven Muslim-majority nations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Yahoo News Thursday that there were "definitely" terrorists within the Syrian refugee population seeking asylum in the U.S. and other western nations.
Assad told Yahoo's Michael Isikoff that he did not wish to comment on Trump's travel ban, currently being challenged in federal court, but that he could offer his opinion that among the 4.8 million refugees who have fled due to the Syrian civil war, there are people aligned with terrorist groups.
“You can find it on the [internet],” Assad said. “Those terrorists in Syria, holding the machine gun or killing people, they [appear as] peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West.”
When asked to provide an estimate on how many terrorist sympathizers he thought might be posing as peaceful refugees, Assad brushed off the suggestion that terrorism needed large numbers to be successful. “You don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities,” he said. "On the 11th of September, it happened by only 15 terrorists out of maybe millions of immigrants in the United states. So it's not about the number, it's about the quality, it's about the intentions."
As for the future of Syria’s 4.8 million refugees, Assad told Yahoo his "priority is to bring those citizens to their country, not to help them immigrate.”