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Challenge posed by ISIS different from Al Qaeda: Barack Obama

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Washington: ISIS today poses a different challenge than that by Al Qaeda previously, US President Barack Obama said on Friday, insisting on striking right balance between individual’s privacy concerns and use of internet by the terrorist groups.

“This (ISIS) is a different kind of challenge than the sort that we had with an organisation like Al Qaeda, that involved highly trained operatives who were working as cells or as a network,” Obama told reporters at his year ender news conference.

“Here, essentially, you have ISIL trying to encourage or induce somebody who may be prey to this kind of propaganda, and it becomes more difficult to see. It does mean that they are less likely to be able to carry out large, complex attacks, but as we saw in San Bernardino, obviously, you can still do enormous damage,”Obama said.

Responding to a question during his year ender press conference, Obama acknowledged that it is very difficult to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife, in the case of San Bernardino terrorist attack in California early this month that killed 14 people.

This is because despite the incredible vigilance of all of law enforcement, homeland security, et cetera, it’s not that different from them trying to detect the next mass shooter.

Seeking balance between privacy and intruding into communications of terrorists, Obama observed the issue of reviewing social media for those who are obtaining visas, may have gotten garbled a little bit.

“Because it’s important to distinguish between posts that are public — social media on a Facebook page — versus private communications through various social media or apps,” he said.

“And our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring public posts, and that is part of the visa review process, that people are investigating what individuals have said publicly, and questioned about any statements that they maybe made,” he said.

“But a private communication between two individuals, that’s harder to discern, by definition. And one of the things we’ll be doing is engaging with the high-tech community to find out how we can, in an appropriate way, do a better job, if we have a lead, to be able to track a suspected terrorist,” Obama said.

He also said the US is working very hard to bring law enforcement, intelligence and high-tech companies together.

PTI