WASHINGTON (TIP): President Barack Obama on Sunday, December 6 issued his most passionate denunciation yet of ISIS, vowing to “destroy” the group in a relentless, strong and smart campaign that is consistent with the nation’s values.
“This was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people,” Obama said. “Here’s what I want you to know. The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us.”
But “freedom is more powerful than fear,” said President Obama, warning that falling prey to divisiveness in American society would play into the hands of extremists.
He also said the US must make it harder for potential attackers to obtain guns.
Obama, speaking in the symbolic surroundings of the Oval Office, unequivocally told millions of television viewers in prime-time that last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, was a terrorist attack by a couple who had gone down the “dark path of radicalization” and embraced a
“perverted” form of Islam.
Obama vowed that the US would overcome the evolving threat of terrorism, but warned that Americans “cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam”.
“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,” Mr. Obama said. He reminded his audience that Muslim-Americans were part of US society.
“And, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that,” he said.
The president warned that turning against America’s Muslim communities would be exactly what Islamist extremists in the so-called Islamic State group want.
“We will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless,” Obama said, calling on Congress to take action to outlaw anyone on a terrorist “no fly list” from buying weapons and asking lawmakers to pass a final authorization for U.S. armed forces to wage war on the group.
And in an appeal that will likely anger conservatives, Obama demanded tougher gun control, saying it was a key part of combating ISIS. He said it is currently too easy for people who want to harm Americans to buy guns.
“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?This is a matter of national security,” Obama said, and also argued it should be harder to buy powerful assault weapons like those used in the San Bernardino attacks that killed 14 people.
“What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill,” Obama said.
But in a Congress dominated by Republicans, passing a force authorization bill or revisiting gun laws could prove nearly impossible.
While the speech was mostly a reiteration of Obama’s existing strategy against terrorism, it unfolded against a highly political context.