President Obama warned that while the US has improved homeland security, it cannot completely eliminate the terror threat.
The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group will probably continue to be a threat to the US even after it is ousted from key strongholds in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday, warning that ISIS followers will still be inspired to launch attacks that are harder to detect and prevent.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with his top national security advisers in the Pentagon, Obama said the US has to do a better job disrupting terror networks and intercepting the internet messages that can get to troubled individuals and inspire them to act.
“What ISIL has figured out is that if they can convince a handful of people or even one person to carry out an attack on a subway, or at a parade or some other public venue, and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it still creates the kinds of fear and concern that elevates their profile,” Obama said.
He said terrorism likely won’t be eliminated by his administration or his successors, and he’s always pushing his team to seek out new ideas to battle the problem.
“I haven’t gotten numb to it. It bugs me whenever it happens,” he said. But, he added, “I do think that because of our extraordinary efforts the homeland is significantly safer than it otherwise would be.”
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a number of recent mass killings, including the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, last month that left 85 dead, and the Orlando nightclub shootings that killed 49. While they may not have been directed by the group, the terrorists were inspired by ISIS.
Tedious Battle Against ISIS in the Middle East
Obama has beefed up the US military fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, recently authorizing more troops to help Iraqi forces prepare to take back the northern city of Mosul, which has been under ISIS control since 2014. And this week, the US expanded its campaign against the group with a new front of airstrikes in Libya, to help the fledgling government there take back the city of Sirte.
The group, however, still maintains strongholds in the region, and the fight in Syria has bogged down.
On Thursday, however, Obama said the anti-ISIS campaign is making progress in Iraq and Syria, because the group has not regained the territory it’s lost in recent months.
But he noted that ousting the terror group from Mosul, and from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, won’t eliminate its networks or its ability to encourage the smaller, more individual attacks.
So, he said, “it is so important for us to keep our eye on the ball and not panic, not succumb to fear, because ISIL can’t defeat the United States of America or our NATO partners.”
The US and its allies, said Obama, must “keep on grinding away” against the group, and take key operatives off the battlefield, and “eventually we will win.”
Speaking in June, FBI Director James Comey said that ISIS is currently the main threat facing the United States, both in its efforts to recruit fighters to join it in Syria and Iraq and to have others carry out violent attacks on American soil.
He said the FBI is continuing to focus on ISIS, and there are close to 1,000 open cases nationwide involving people at various stages of recruitment.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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