Guantanamo 'enormous recruitment tool' for extremists, Obama says

President Barack Obama is drawing a connection between resistance to letting Syrian refugees into the U.S. and resistance to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

White House overlooked Guantanamo provisions from Republicans to sign defence bill recently

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during his remarks to reporters after a bilateral meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila on Thursday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Barack Obama is drawing a connection between resistance to letting Syrian refugees into the U.S. and resistance to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

Following the Paris attacks, some Republicans have called for halting the entry of Syrian refugees or giving preference to Syrian Christians. Obama says only allowing Christians in alienates Muslims the same way that Guantanamo has for years.

He says the detention centre has been an "enormous recruitment tool" for extremists.

Obama is commenting amid new delays in submitting a plan to Congress on how to close the prison. He says the U.S. can shut down Guantanamo, if he used an executive order, while keeping the American people safe.

"I will guarantee you there will be strong resistance because in the aftermath of Paris, I think there is a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don't actually make us safe but make for good political soundbites, whether it is refugees or Guantanamo," he said.

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