Interview With RTBF's Regis De Rather

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Brussels, Belgium
March 25, 2016

QUESTION: (In French.)


QUESTION: (In French.)


QUESTION: How long does it take, could it take?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I think we will do very, very serious damage to Daesh in the course of this year. And Daesh is already under enormous pressure in Syria and Iraq. The problem is, obviously, that there are people who have left Syria who are hiding or preparing in various places in the world. And we’re going to have to do really extraordinary intelligence work and police work to make sure that we protect citizens in those circumstances.

QUESTION: But we have seen the – the more the coalition strikes in Syria or in Iraq, the more little cells, violent cells emerge here in Europe. How can we deal with that?

SECRETARY KERRY: With good intelligence, with good police work, with good neighborhood work. Citizens need to be observant. If there are people in their community that they haven’t seen before, if they have reason to be suspicious of the activities that people are engaged in, people have to contribute to the flow of information. I’m convinced that over time we will find even people in those kinds of circumstances.

QUESTION: Have we failed in Europe in the control of those returnees, those jihadists?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, there’s a lot of quick judging going on right now. And I think it’s a mistake. In Belgium, for instance, the Belgian authorities are the ones who captured Salah Abdeslam. And I’m hearing people – I don’t know this, but I hear that that may have triggered these suicidists to go out and do what they did, because they thought they were about to be captured. So in effect, good police work was closing in on them. Now --

QUESTION: But in the past we have missed all those guys.

SECRETARY KERRY: Sure, but everybody – I mean, there are – this is difficult work. It’s always easier the day after or the week after to look back and say, why did we miss that, or why did we miss that? But I – and I’m not making excuses. We can all do more. We are doing more. And we are working with the Belgian authorities – the Belgian authorities, by the way, brought a team of foreign fighter experts over here last month, before these attacks. And before these attacks took place, the Belgian authorities had already set up meetings for next month, in April, for dealing with passport security, for dealing with police work that can help notice different kinds of behavior and so forth for training.

So there’s a lot that’s been happening, and I think people need to really wait until the investigation is completed before they make judgments.

QUESTION: After San Bernardino’s attacks in USA, Barack Obama has said it was isolated wolves. Do you think this is the good way to think, there are isolated wolves?

SECRETARY KERRY: There are isolated lone wolves, yes, there are. That is correct. They exist.

QUESTION: But they are a network – there is a network also.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the San Bernardino was not part of the network.

QUESTION: But here --

SECRETARY KERRY: But we understand there are some indications of a network – the one that engaged in Paris we know was hiding somewhat in Belgium. And everybody learned that previously. And obviously, Salah Abdeslam was apprehended here in Belgium. So – but that doesn’t mean – what it means is that there are people positioned in various places, and not just in Belgium, not just in France, but in various countries around the world. We know this is true.

QUESTION: What is the future for our children, Mr. Secretary? It’s a world where everybody is suspect, everybody will be controlled at any time?

SECRETARY KERRY: No. No, I don’t believe that. I believe that we will live in a world in which we all will be alert and vigilant, but I believe if we do things correctly, if we make the right choices, we have an ability to end this scourge of Daesh, and we have an ability to show people what a better life can look like that is available to everybody. And that requires --

QUESTION: (In French.)


QUESTION: (In French.)