Originally published in Christian News Network
In his speech to the nation on 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 recognised 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 programWorlds 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.”
Meanwhile Christians who have fled the bloody campaign of ISIS in Iraq said US plans to snuff out the Sunni militants will not be enough and that American combat troops are their only hope, reports NBC News.
President Barack Obama pledged overnight to lead a “broad coalition” of allies to tackle the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – but without American combat troops.
That disappointed many on the ground in northern Iraq, who told NBC News they want boots on the ground.
“Only Americans can fix it,” said one man taking shelter in an unfinished building in Erbil, a city of 1.5 million that has become a safe haven for religious minorities who have escaped and fled religious persecution at the hands of ISIS militants. “They should just send their soldiers into Iraq and Syria, not just fight from the air.”
He and others, who requested anonymity out of fear for their lives, said they do not see how local, Iraqi forces can defeat the extremists.
“I was with the Iraqi army in Mosul for four years and I can tell you we did not do anything, just collected a salary,” said the man, who fled from the Christian town of Qaraqosh. Qaraqosh, once a town of 40,000, has been terrorized by ISIS fighters amassing power and laying down harsh Sharia law.
“We’re happy that the US is conducting air strikes,” another man said. “But it’s not enough. We need something to happen now.”
Obama has stressed that U.S. involvement will not lead to a repeat of the Iraq war – but some Christians who spoke to NBC News waxed nostalgic for those times.
“When the Americans were in Mosul, we had no problems,” another man said. “When they left, the troubles started.”