Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that be believes "Islam hates us," and called on the United States to "expand" laws on using enhanced interrogation techniques against terrorist groups.

“I think Islam hates us,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”

Trump was responding to a question by Cooper about whether he believed the West is at war with Islam. Cooper asked Trump if he was referring to Islam at large or to radical elements within the faith.

“You’re going to have to figure that out,” Trump said. “But there’s a tremendous hatred and 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, and of people who are not Muslim. “

Cooper again pressed Trump on whether he was talking about “radical Islam” or “Islam itself.”

“It’s radical but it’s very hard to define, it’s very hard to separate because you don’t know who’s who," Trump said.

In Concord, N.C., on March 7, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump defended his stance on waterboarding and attacked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). (Reuters)

The real estate mogul has been harshly criticized for advocating a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States, which he says is necessary because the country is not able to screen out terrorists from groups like the Islamic State.

Trump said that the United States should escalate its interrogation tactics against terrorists, stipulating that although he understands the United States is constrained by international laws regulating torture, that he believes techniques such as waterboarding should not fall within restricted categories.

"We have to the play the game at a much tougher level than we’re playing it. We have to expand those laws," Trump said. “Everyone believes in the Geneva Convention until they start losing and then they say let's take out the bomb,” he added.

The billionaire previously signaled that he would order military personnel to use torture but has since stated that he would not force service members to violate international law but said that did not represent a reversal.  “I clarified very simply [that] we have laws. We have to obey the laws,” he said.