WASHINGTON — In his speech to the nation Wednesday night, Barack Obama vowed to eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while claiming that the group does not represent Islam.
“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic,” he said. “No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.”
“And ISIL is certainly not a state,” Obama continued. “It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”
He outlined his strategy to combat the group using both a campaign of airstrikes and providing support for local forces that are fighting ISIL on the ground.
“First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense,” Obama outlined. “Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.”
“Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground,” he continued, noting that the U.S. will deploy 475 service members to Iraq to provide assistance. “As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission; we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.”
Obama also explained that his administration would work to prevent terrorist attacks through increased intelligence and cutting off funding to the group. He additionally noted that the United States would provide humanitarian aid to those who are being oppressed in Iraq and Syria by ISIL.
“This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities,” Obama said. “We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.”
The United States will be among a coalition of forces fighting ISIL, he outlined—a mission that will not be short-lived.
“Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” Obama stated. “And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for—timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.”
As previously reported, in a recent interview on the Russia Today program Worlds Apart, London-based imam Anjem Choudary cited the Koran in acknowledging that terrorism is part of the Islamic faith.
“I would first invite the people to think about and embrace Islam, but those who are already Muslim must know that Allah mentions in the Koran—in fact if you look in chapter 8 verse 60, he said, ‘Prepare as much as you can steeds of war to terrorize the enemy,’” he explained. “So terrorizing the enemy is in fact part of Islam. I mean, this is something that we must embrace and understand as far as jurisprudence of Islam is concerned.”