Vowing to “destroy” the Islamic State, President Barack Obama on Monday sought to reassure rattled Americans in the aftermath of the California massacre that the US would overcome a “new phase” of terror threat that seeks to “poison the minds” of people here and around the world.
In a rare address to the nation from his Oval Office of the White House, Obama said the threat from terrorism is real, but the US will overcome it. However, he ruled out sending large scale troops to Syria and Iraq to defeat the “cult of death”.
Obama said his strategy to destroy ISIS is designed and supported by US military commanders and counter-terrorism experts, together with 65 countries that have joined an American-led coalition targeting the terror outfit.
“We will destroy ISIL (another name for ISIS) and any other organisation 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. And by drawing upon every aspect of American power,” he said.
In his prime time address, Obama said, “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq.”
“But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops and draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits,” he said.
“The strategy that we are using now — air strikes, special forces and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory, and it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil,” he added.
Asserting that the ISIS does not speak for Islam, Obama urged Islamic leaders across the world to speak out against the terrorist outfit and its ideology.
Stating that the US military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary, he said, “In Iraq and Syria, air strikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure.”
Noting that over the last few years the terrorist threat has evolved into a “new phase”, Obama said, “As groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.”
Obama described the California shooting in which a radicalised couple — Pakistani national Tashfeen Malik, and her Pakistani-American husband Syed Rizwan Farook — killed 14 people as an “act of terrorism”.