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Secretary Kerry: We're going to eliminate ISIS

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Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday he could see a "rationale" for the terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office in January

Kerry was trying to draw a distinction between the attacks in Paris this past Friday

Washington CNN —  

Secretary of State John Kerry drew a distinction Tuesday between the two terror attacks in Paris this year, saying the terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office in January had a “rationale” as opposed to Friday’s events, which Kerry described as “indiscriminate” violence.

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. 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, ‘OK, they’re really angry because of this and that,’” Kerry said during remarks at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

“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 added.

In a 20-minute speech on ISIS on Wednesday, Kerry did not refer to his comments about the two attacks from the previous day.

Instead, he said that the U.S. had a strategy for fighting the terrorist organization and maintained that it was “working,” even if it would take some time.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and other areas this past January in which 12 people died. The terrorist group said it was in response to the satirical magazine’s mocking of the Prophet Mohammed.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the far more deadly and widespread attacks in Paris Friday. They came just one day after a drone strike killed the ISIS terrorist known as “Jihadi John” and after U.S.-backed forces reclaimed the city of Sinjar in northern Iraq from the terror group.

ISIS fast facts

Critics quickly pounced on Kerry’s remarks.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said of the secretary of state: “His comments today were offensive…truly stupid.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki reacted more forcefully, calling for Kerry to resign.

“John Kerry cannot represent America to the rest of the world any longer as he does not represent the ideals and compassion of the American people,” Pataki said in a statement. “His callous, offensive and outrageous remarks require his immediate removal from such an important office. If the President won’t do it, he needs to remove himself and resign.”

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Kerry was “simply reflecting the justification that (the Hebdo attackers) themselves put on – on that. That’s it.”

“He was very, very eloquent and very clear today about the fact that there was no rationale for this kind of violence,” Kirby added.