Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that he believes "Islam hates" the West and said "it was very hard to separate" the religion from its radical adherents.
The billionaire casino mogul made the statements while sitting down with CNN's Anderson Cooper for a one-on-one interview hours before the 12th Republican presidential debate was to take place in Miami, Florida.
"Do you think that Islam is at war with the West?" Cooper asked Trump during the discussion.
"I think Islam hates us," Trump responded. "There's something there that's a tremendous hatred, we have to get to the bottom of it," he added.
Trump continued: "It's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who," he said, referring to in his opinion the failure to create space between the religion of Islam and Islamic fundamentalists.
Asked if hatred was inherent in the religion itself, Trump said that it was for the media and electorate to decide for themselves.
"You're gonna have to figure that out, OK?" he told Cooper. "We have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States."
Trump has made headlines in the past discussing the the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism, suggesting that he would reinstate the banned practice of waterboarding, restrict Muslims from traveling to the United States and suggested the US armed forces should target family members of terrorists.
Late last month, Trump drew harsh rebukes from top intelligence and military officials
, such as former NSA Director Michael Hayden, who said that the military would “refuse to act” on an order given by Trump as commander in chief to kill family members of terrorists.