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Photograph: EPA/MAX WHITTAKER / POOL

Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner in the US presidential race, on Sunday defended his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States despite his comments being used by radical Islamists in a video to recruit fighters.

Trump said the world is talking about the potential of jihadists entering as immigrants only because he brought it up.

"Big parts of the world are saying, Trump is really right, at least identifying what's going on," he said in an interview with CBS, referring to the statement he made December that all Muslims should be banned entry to the US.

Trump said the possibility of terrorists entering the country as migrants was a problem that must be solved, adding "you're not going to solve the problem unless you identify it."

He said it was no surprise that groups like al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, would exploit his statement. A 51-minute video released Friday on Twitter by the Somali extremist group includes him proposing the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

Trump said he wouldn't shy away from talking about Islamist radicalism for the sake of depriving extremists of material they could use to recruit jihadists.

"What am I going to do?" he asked. "I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say? There's a problem. We have to find out what is the problem. And we have to solve that problem."

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton recently claimed that Trump had become the "best recruiter" for Islamic State, saying the extremist group had used his statement in its propaganda even though there was no evidence of that.

Trump's blunt style has been criticized by people who say the way he talks about Muslims puts US national security at risk. Trump said he didn't bother trying to be politically correct because "it takes too long."

The US presidential campaign is heading towards initial primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire in early February.

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