WASHINGTON — In an interview with CBS on Sunday, while repeating his assertion that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent the Islamic religion, Barack Obama acknowledged that the group seeks to kill those who “worship a different God” than Allah.
Obama was interviewed by correspondent Steve Croft for the “60 Minutes” broadcast in a discussion that largely centered on American efforts to combat terrorism abroad. During the discussion, Croft cited that Obama had spoken of Al Qaeda being “decimated” two years ago, but that affiliates of the terror organization continue their insurgency in Iraq and Syria, and others have taken control of Libya.
“If you’ll recall, Steve, you had an international network in al Qaeda between Afghanistan and Pakistan, headed by Bin Laden. And that structure we have rendered ineffective,” Obama replied. “But what I also said, and this was two years ago and a year ago, is that you have regional groups with regional ambitions and territorial ambitions. And what also has not changed is the kind of violent, ideologically driven extremism that has taken root in too much of the Muslim world.”
He reiterated his contention that while the United States is fighting ISIS, it is not warring against the Islamic religion.
“[T]his week, in my speech to the United Nations General Assembly, I made very clear we are not at war against Islam,” Obama said. “Islam is a religion that preaches peace and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful.”
However, he acknowledged that ISIS and other Islamic groups seek to murder those who do not worship Allah.
“But in the Muslim world right now, there is a cancer that has grown for too long that suggests that it is acceptable to kill innocent people who worship a different God,” he said. “And that kind of extremism, unfortunately, means that we’re going to see for some time the possibility that in a whole bunch of different countries, radical groups may spring up, particularly in countries that are still relatively fragile, where you had sectarian tensions, where you don’t have a strong state security apparatus.”
Internationally, it has been widely recognized that ISIS has sought to kill Christians and Catholics in Iraq and Syria, threatening those who do not convert to Islam with death. Other groups such as Africa’s Boko Haram have done likewise.
As previously reported, Nigerian teen Deborah Peters spoke in Washington, D.C. this past May about how her father, a pastor, was murdered by Islamists because of his Christian faith.
“In November , they burned his church, but still, he didn’t give up and built the church again,” she outlined. “So they said okay, they’re gonna kill him.”
On December 22, 2011, members of Boko Haram came to Peters’ home with the intent to murder her father.
“Three men knocked on our door, and then my brother opened the door for them,” she recalled. “And they asked him, ‘Where is your dad?’ And he told them, ‘My dad is in the bathroom taking a shower.’”
The men then dragged Peters’ father out of the shower and demanded that he deny his Christian faith.
“He told them that he should rather die than go to hellfire,” she said. “So, he then told them that [Jesus] said anyone that denied Him, He’s gonna deny them in the presence of His Dad in heaven. So my dad refused to deny his faith and they [shot] him three times in his chest.”
In 2006, during an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, then-President George W. Bush was asked, “Do we all worship the same God, Christians and Muslims?” Bush replied, “I think we do. I think we have different routes of getting to the Almighty.”