Obama pledges to make defeating ISIS top priority
United States (U.S.) President Obama said yesterday that he would continue to “aggressively” go after the Islamic State militant group after terrorist attacks in Belgium on Tuesday that he described as “senseless, vicious violence.”
Today, the people of the United States and Argentina stand with the Belgian people and express our extraordinary sorry for the losses that they’ve experienced,” Mr. Obama said, after a meeting with Argentina’s president here.
“The United States will continue to offer any assistance that we can to help investigate these attacks and bring these attackers to justice.”
Mr. Obama said defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is his top priority and defended his strategy for doing so. But he conceded that he has not yet been able to thwart the indiscriminate attacks by the group around the world.
“My top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world,” Mr. Obama said.
“This is difficult work,” he added. “It’s not because we don’t have the best and the brightest working on it, it’s not because we are not taking the threat seriously, it is because it’s challenging to find and identify very small groups of people who are willing to die themselves and can walk into a crowd and detonate a bomb.”
The president also responded to remarks by Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican presidential candidate, who said that law enforcement in the United States should “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalised.”
Mr. Obama said that he had just left Cuba, a country that engages in such surveillance, and that “the notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes no sense and is contrary to who we are.”
The carnage in Brussels has disrupted and overshadowed Mr. Obama’s trip to Cuba and Argentina this week, a familiar phenomenon for a president who has repeatedly seen his visits abroad overtaken by a terrorism crisis somewhere in the world.
In this case, the bombings in Brussels unfolded just as Mr. Obama was in Cuba to celebrate a historic diplomatic opening he regards as a pivotal piece of his legacy. He was in Argentina yesterday for meetings with the country’s new president, Mauricio Macri, meant to showcase a new era of cooperation after decades of strain.
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