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Donald Trump Says Suspected Terrorist Arrested in Brussels Should be Waterboarded

The Republican frontrunner says he'd close US borders in response to such an attack as president, keeping Syrians in particularly out of the country.
Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said Tuesday morning that as president, he would use waterboarding and other means of torture in response to an attack like the one in Belgium.

Asked on the "Today Show" what Belgian officials should do to get information from suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam, the man suspected of being the logistics planner for the November Paris attacks and captured last week in Brussels, Trump said: "I would say they should be able to do whatever they have to do. … Because the laws are so liberal over there, they won't do that."

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Pressed on what he meant specifically, Trump said that torture should be on the table and would be, if he can change US laws, if such an attack happened on US soil as well.

"I'm not looking for breaking news on your show, but frankly the waterboarding if it was up to me," Trump said. "And if we changed the laws or have the laws, waterboarding would be fine. … If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people. And we have to be smart and we have to be tough."

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Asked whether torture actually works as a means of gaining information, Trump said he believes that it does, saying "I don't believe other people" including the US Senate, which found in a report on CIA interrogation techniques that torture does not work. "I am in the camp where you have to get the information and you have to get it rapidly," Trump said.

In response to such an attack, whether on US soil or abroad during his potential presidency, Trump said that his response would actually be similar to what he already plans to do as US president: closing the borders, particularly to Syrians.

"I would be very, very tough on the borders and I would be not allowing certain people to come into this country without absolute perfect documentation," Trump said. "I would exclude people coming in from Syria that don't have documentation. … I would certainly exclude those people from coming in."

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Trump said that attacks like the one in Brussels actually explain why he is doing so well in the presidential race in the US this year.

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"This is a subject that is very dear and near to my heart because I've been talking about it certainly much more than anybody else and it's why I'm probably number one in the polls because of the fact that I say we have to have strong borders, we have to be very vigilant and careful about who we let into our country," he said.

Trump referenced attacks in Paris and now Brussels, and violence against women in Germany that's been linked to North African and Middle Eastern men, saying that the "assimilation" of migrants from Muslim nations is "a disaster."

Although he said that Brussels was once "one of the most beautiful cities and one of the safest cities in the world," 20 years ago, it is now "a horrorshow." Not just because of Tuesday's attacks, but in general it is now "a catastrophic, very unsafe city where the police have very little control." He also tweeted about it:

Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was. Not anymore, it is from a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)March 22, 2016

"And this all happened frankly there's no assimilation, they're not assimilating. … They want to go by Sharia law, they want Sharia law, they don't want laws that we have," Trump said. "They want Sharia law and you know you say to yourself, at what point, how much do you take? And what we're doing is we're allowing thousands and thousands of people into this country."

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Asked what he would say on to the American people after such an attack as president, Trump said: "I would say to the American people that we are going to be very strong, we are going to be very vigilant, and we are going to be very tough and we're not going to allow this to happen to our country. And if it does happen, we're going to find the people that did it and they are going to suffer greatly."

Follow Sarah Mimms on Twitter: @SarahMMimms