December 7, 2015
President Barack Obama during a special Oval office televised address on Sunday night reassured the nation of plans to destroy terrorism at home and overseas, and called on citizens to remember American shared values, and to resist discrimination of American Muslims as the country and its allies continue their global fight against the terrorist group ISIL and its affiliates.
“We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam, that is what groups like ISIL want,” President Obama said in his speech. “They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. This does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to the radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans of every faith to reject discrimination. it is our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisineness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL.”
He added that while many Muslim communities and leaders reject this hateful ideology and continued to lend their supports to the administration’s efforts of combatting domestic terrorism, the spread of hateful ideology of Islam and the radicalization of individuals are still real issues within the Muslim communities that leaders “must confront, without excuse.”
The address to the nation came in the wake of last week’s shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., where a radicalized Muslim couple killed 14 people and injured more than 20 people during an office holiday party.
The shooting incident, one of several many which have taken place across the country in recent months, has reignited political, social and humanitarian debates among presidential candidates and citizens about U.S. gun laws, and the Obama administration’s efforts to keep Americans safe at home while upping the ante in its fight against ISIL.
During the 13 minutes speech, the President acknowledged concerns and fears of terrorism in the United States. He said his administration is proactive and the nation’s defense forces are on the offensive in the fight against ISIL both at home and around the world, using every resources and intelligence available to them.
However, he admitted that the fight against terrorist groups, which began after al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, “has evolved into a new phase” over the years from fighting one or two isolated groups in specific regions of the world to fighting a broader, more complex, multifaceted groups that now employ several small act of violences, including mass shootings, kidnappings and beheading of American journalists to hurt and promote their propaganda against America.
“Over the last few years, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure,” President Obama said.
He underscored that “the threat from terrorism is real”, but said America “will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success wont depend on tough talk or abandon gin our values, or giving into fear. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.”
President Obama also reiterated his administration’s strategic plans to destroy the Islamic extremist group and other terrorist groups around the world, including ramping up military campaigns and using airstrikes to destroy terrorist safe havens in Iraq and Syria, providing military training and equipment to special forces that are fighting the groups, collaborating with U.S. allies, friends, and financial institutions across the world to stop terrorist operations, stop their recruiting efforts, cut-off financial resources, and establish a timeline for ceasefires and political resolution to the Syrian war, while keeping Americans safe at home.
“The strategy that we are using now- airstrikes, 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,” said President Obama.
“This is our strategy to destroy ISIL. it is designed and supported by military commanders and counterterrorism experts together with 65 countries that have joined an American led coalition.”
The President said in the wake of the recent shootings in San Berdardino, he has ordered the Department of States and Homeland Security to review American visa program that one of the killers used to enter the U.S. He also called on Congress to do their part in ensuring Americans remain safe at home by reviewing Gun laws and to pass tighter legislations that will prevent people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.
The fight against ISIL and its affiliates- has expanded in recent years to include terrorist groups Boko Haram in West Africa and al Shabab in East Africa. In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Both terrorist groups in Africa, combined, have killed thousands of people, injured hundreds, kidnapped women and children and left more than 2 million people displaced as refugees across the continent.
Last week, the Obama administration issued sanctions against two Boko Haram leaders– Mohammed Nur and Mustafa Chad.
As a result of the sanctions, all assets of these individuals that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. citizens are frozen and U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“From kidnapping schoolgirls to mass fatality terrorist attacks, Boko Haram represents a threat not just to innocents in Nigeria but to all civilized society,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue our efforts to target groups like Boko Haram and all who support them.”
The sanctions, part of the U.S.’s strategy to counter Boko Haram, meant to cut off the group’s financial safe havens, assets, and resources that provide them with continued support to carry out their propaganda agendas and terrorist actions across Nigeria and neighboring countries.
Mohammed Nur, a Nigerian national, is a senior Boko Haram member who helped organize the August 2011 suicide attacks on the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja and continue to support campaigns of violence against Nigerian government and innocent citizens. He was one of approximately 90 extremists who had reported trained with U.S.-designated SDGT al-Shabaab, and was the third in command under the leadership of Mohammad Yusuf where he supervised Boko Haram operations, including suicide bombings, direct attacks, assassinations and construction of IEDs.
As of July 2013, Nur represented the group in negotiations with the Nigerian government, the Department of Treasury said in a statement.
Mustapha Chad, a national of Chad, and a Boko Haram Shura Council member and militant commander, acted on behalf of Boko Haram and provided financial, material or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of group.
In September, President Obama authorized $45 million to support West African countries’ efforts to defeat Boko Haram. The funds will go towards providing military education and training of forces in Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger.
Boko Haram was designated by the Department of State in 2013 as a Foreign Terrorist organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
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