President-elect Donald Trump on Monday condemned deadly violence in Turkey and Germany, describing the assassination of a Russian ambassador and a fatal crash at a Berlin Christmas market as terrorist attacks motivated by Islamic extremism, although the motive behind each incident remains unclear.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Trump labeled the man accused of fatally shooting Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at an Ankara art gallery a “radical Islamic terrorist.”
“The murder of an ambassador is a violation of all rules of civilized order and must be universally condemned,” the president-elect said.
Shortly after, he released a statement saying that people killed by a truck that drove into a Berlin market on Monday were victims of a “horrifying terror attack” and charging that “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
“These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the Earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners,” Trump said in response to the deaths in Berlin.
Trump is suggesting that the violence in both places is connected to Islamic terrorism. Despite that assertion, much information about the assailants and their motives remains publicly unknown.
Russia has called the attack on its ambassador an act of terrorism, and the White House similarly referenced the U.S.’s commitment to fighting terrorism in its own statement condemning the assassination, but did not mention “Islamic” terrorism specifically.
The gunman reportedly shouted out about Aleppo, the Syrian city at the center of the country’s civil war and an ongoing humanitarian crisis, and yelled “God is great” in Arabic at the scene before dying in a police shootout. Reuters also reported, citing an anonymous “senior security official,” that he may be connected to Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing an attempted coup in Turkey this summer. (Gulen resides in exile in the mountains of Pennsylvania.)
In Berlin, even less is known about the circumstances surrounding the crash that left at least nine people dead and injured dozens of others. While police believe the crash was intentional and have arrested a suspect, they did not know at first whether that person was in fact the driver, according to The New York Times.
It is unclear why Trump jumped so quickly to invoke worries about Islamic terrorism in responding to those cases, but throughout his campaign he repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for not describing some extremists that way.
In a tweet early Monday evening, Trump grouped both incidents together to contend that the threat posed by terrorism “is only getting worse.” He also mentioned Switzerland, where several people were reported injured Monday in a shooting at a mosque in Zurich.
“Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany — and it is only getting worse,” Trump wrote. “The civilized world must change thinking!”
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