Obama vows to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) until it is no longer a force in the Middle East, a day after the beheading a second U.S. journalist by the group.
The U.S. president vowed the United States would not forget the “terrible crime against these two fine young men.”
“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” Obama said.
“And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”
He also sought to clean up the damage from his statement last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the Islamic State group in Syria. Republicans quickly seized on the remark to argue the president lacks a coherent approach to fighting the extremist group, the Associated Press reported.
“It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are,” Obama said. “We’ve made the case to Congress and we’ve made the case to the American people, and we’ve got allies behind us so that it’s not just a one-off, but it’s something that over time is going to be effective.”
“Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat – not just to Iraq, but also the region and to the United States,” he said, using an acronym for the militant group.
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, appearing alongside Obama, expressed solidarity in the fight. “We see ISIS as a serious threat to all of us, and stand together with the United States and our allies on this issue,” Ilves said, using an alternative name for the group.
Sotloff, a 31-year-old Miami-area native who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished a year ago in Syria and was not seen again until he appeared in the video that showed Foley’s beheading. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the Islamic State.
In the video distributed Tuesday and titled “A Second Message to America,” Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is apparently beheaded by a fighter with the Islamic State, the extremist group that has conquered wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq and declared itself a caliphate.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC Wednesday that the masked, British-accented jihadist appears to be the same person shown in the Foley footage. In the video, the organization threatens to kill another hostage, this one identified as a British citizen.