Obama pledges to destroy Islamic State

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Calling last week’s mass killing in San Bernardino an “act of terrorism,” President Barack Obama pledged to destroy the Islamic State.

“It is clear the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization,” Obama said, referring to the couple, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who carried out the attack at a social services center in the southern California city. “This was an act of terrorism.”

Obama cast the San Bernardino attack, which killed 14 people, as part of a string of attacks by radical Muslims, including deadly attacks in 2009 in Fort Hood, Texas, in Boston in 2013 and in Chattanooga, Tenn. earlier this year, the clearest signal yet from a president that there is a homegrown threat from radicalized Muslims.

“As the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to posion the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers,” he said. Farook and Malik were killed later in the day ion a shootout with police.

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“The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it,” Obama said. “We will destroy ISIL and any organization that tries to harm us.” ISIL is one of several acronyms for Islamic State.

Obama outlined a series of measures currently underway, including air strikes in Iraq and Syria, intelligence sharing with allies, special operations, cutting off finances for the terrorist groups and training ground troops of countries where the terrorists operate.

He refused to countenance a war that committed U.S. ground troops, saying that would play into the hands of the terrorists.

“We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria,” he said.

Obama called on Congress to authorize the air strikes, which would place his actions on sounder legal ground.

Additionally, he called on Congress to tighten gun laws, among other proposals, forbidding people on no-fly lists from purchasing guns.

Obama delivered his statement from the Oval Office, a rare setting for broadcasts and one used by previous presidents to announce military action.

Obama said it was incumbent on moderate Muslims overseas and in the United States to confront extremists among them, but also warned against generalizing against a population he called patriotic, noting the many Muslims who serve in the U.S. armed forces.

“Let us not forget what makes us exceptional, let us not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear,” Obama said.

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