Washington: Speaking to the nation in a rare address from the Oval Office on the threat of terrorism, U.S President Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to wipe out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and any other terrorist organisation that threatens to harm America and its people.
“The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless,” Obama said.
Laying out his plans to overcome the ISIS, the President said that the US military will continue to hunt down terrorists in ‘any country where it is necessary’ including Iraq and Syria, where ISIS leaders and their lairs are being taken out in continuous airstrikes.
He also praised ‘closest allies’ France, Germany, and the United Kingdom who have ramped up their contribution since the 13/11 Paris carnage to the US military campaign against ISIS.
“Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying special operations forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and will continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground,” the President said.
Talking about the coalition against ISIS, he added that America and its allies are also working hard to disrupt the terror outfit’s plots by cutting off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters.
“Since the attacks in Paris, we’ve surged merged intelligence sharing with our European allies. We’re working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria, and we are cooperating with Muslim majority countries, and with our Muslim communities here at home, to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online,” Obama said.
Expressing confidence in the strategy against ISIS, the President said that the tactic was designed by top US military commanders and counterterrorism experts, together with 65 countries as they keep evolving and examining their course of action in getting the job done.
Speaking on the recent San Bernardino shootings where 14 Americans were killed, Obama branded the incident as an ‘act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people’ and said that terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase.
“Our nation has been at war with terrorists since Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses, from airports, to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society,” he said.
However, the President reminded the nation to not turn against one another by branding the fight as between ‘America and Islam’, since that was what ISIS wanted and also asserted that the terror outfit in no way represented Islam.
“ISIL are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death. And they account for a tiny fraction of a more than a billion Muslims around the world. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate,” Obama said.
Discussing the steps to curb terrorism on American soil, the President called for stricter gun control and a stronger screening process for those who enter the US without a visa among other steps to address the challenging threat of terrorism.
“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no- fly list is able to buy a gun. This is a matter of national security. We should also put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve travelled to war zones. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed to this fight,” he added.
Concluding his address, Obama reminded the nation that ‘freedom is more powerful than fear’ and called on America to be strong now more than ever, as they have always met challenges, be it natural disasters or terrorist attacks, as a unified country.
“I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law,” the President said. (ANI)