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Watch President Barack Obama’s full statement Tuesday on the fight against terrorism.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he doesn’t use the term “radical Islam” when describing U.S. counterterrorism operations because it is a “political distraction” that would make no difference in the fight.
“If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them,” he said.
His comments came after a meeting with his National Security Council, which was scheduled prior to Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Mr. Obama criticized the plan put forth by Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump to temporarily block all Muslims from entering the U.S., saying the United States was founded on freedom of religion and that there are no religious tests in America.
“It makes Muslim-Americans feel like their government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for,” he said.
The president said the lengthy fight against the Islamic State group has made progress, including reducing their financial resources and causing them to resort to stealing. “These are not religious warriors. They are thugs and they are thieves.”
He also gave an update on the investigation into the shooting spree in Orlando.
“It is increasingly clear … that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized,” President Obama said.
“These lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent. But across our government at every level, federal, state and local, military and civilian, we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks.”
He called for reinstating the assault weapons ban and further restrictions. “People with possible ties to terrorism, who are not allowed on a plane should not be allowed to buy a gun,” he said.
Larisa Epatko produced multimedia web features and broadcast reports with a focus on foreign affairs for the PBS NewsHour. She has reported in places such as Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Western Sahara, Guantanamo Bay, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.
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