Obama vows to defeat 'new phase' of terrorist threat

Obama vows to defeat 'new phase' of terrorist threat
US President Obama defended his strategy to defeat Islamic State group on Sunday but offered no policy shift to confront what he called a 'new phase' in the terrorist threat.
3 min read
07 December, 2015
In a rare Oval Office address, President Obama vowed the United States would overcome a new phase of the terror threat that seeks to "poison the minds" of people here and around the world, as he sought to reassure Americans shaken by recent attacks in Paris and California.

"We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam," Obama said from the White House Oval Office.

We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam
- US President Barack Obama
"That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. It's a real problem that Muslims must confront without excuse," the US president added. 

The US witnessed a mass shooting on Wednesday, after a number of shooters opened fire inside a state facility serving developmental disabilities in the southern California town of San Bernardino.

Authorities said that a couple carried out the attack that killed 14 people and wounded 21 and Obama declared it "an act of terrorism," during his Sunday speech.

According to a US official, the wife had pledged allegiance to IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a Facebook post.

In his prime-time speech, Obama said that there was no evidence that the shooting was part of a broader plot that was directed by a terror group but said that it was "an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people" and that the couple "had gone down the dark path of radicalisation."

"They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism," Obama said.

No shift in strategy

Obama called IS militants "thugs and killers" who "do not speak for Islam" and said: "We will destroy ISIL (IS) and any other organisation that tries to harm us."

Obama's speech did not reflect a shift in his strategy in the fight against IS.

"We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq and Syria. That's what groups like ISIL (IS) want," he said.

This was only his third televised address delivered from the Oval Office. The other two times were after the oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico and to announce the end of combat operations in Iraq.

Tougher gun controls

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Obama called on Sunday for tougher gun controls and a ban on gun purchases for those on a US no-fly list.

"To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun," Obama said.

"What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security."

Obama also said that he seek the help of "high tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice."