In New York for the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama told reporters today that the coalition push in Iraq and Syria “exposes ISIL as the failed cause that it is” and “over time will make it harder for them to recruit and inspire people to violence.”
The president said he’s been “monitoring the situation closely and receiving frequent updates from my team and I’ve just been briefed again by FBI Director Comey.”
“In addition, I’ve had a chance to speak with Governors Cuomo and Christie, as well as Mayor de Blasio. We’ve seen what was apparently a pipe bomb go off in New Jersey in Seaside Park, where it could have seriously injured our U.S. Marines and spectators who were there for a race,” he said.
“The bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood here in New York injured more than two dozen people. We are extremely fortunate and grateful that nobody was killed. Our prayers go out to all of those who have been injured. We want to wish them a speedy recovery.”
In his first comments since the Saturday bombings, Obama commended “all the outstanding police and first responders in both New York City and New Jersey for their extraordinary professionalism and their quick response” and called on residents to help out the cops: “if you something suspicious, then you need to say something.”
“In the meantime, I would ask that the press try to refrain from getting out ahead of the investigation… It does not help if false reports or incomplete information is out there. So try to, as much as possible, stick to what our investigators say because they actually know what they’re talking about.”
Obama noted that “while all this is going on in New York and New Jersey, we’re also focused on the stabbing attack at the shopping mall in Minnesota.”
ISIS has claimed responsibility for only the Minnesota attack. “The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” ISIS’ news wire, Amaq Agency, said in a statement.
“At this point, we see no connection between that incident and what happened here in New York and New Jersey,” Obama said. “Our attention there is on the people who were injured, and again, we are very grateful that no one lost their life. Thanks to the quick action of a brave off-duty police officer, the suspect was killed and we avoided more people being hurt.”
The president stressed that U.S. counterterrorism units are “the best of the best — over the years, they have thwarted many plots and saved many lives and we are incredibly grateful for their service, today and every single day.”
“We will continue to lead the global coalition on the fight to destroy ISIL, which is instigating a lot of people over the internet to carry out attacks,” he continued. “We are gonna continue to go after them. We’re gonna take out their leaders. We’re gonna take out their infrastructure. They’re continuing to lose ground in Iraq and in Syria.”
He mentioned his meeting later today with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq to “discuss the need to sustain that momentum.”
“And we’re gonna continue to enlist tech companies and community and religious leaders to push back against online extremist content and all messages of hate,” Obama added.
“You know, at moments like this, I think it’s important to remember what terrorists and violent extremists are trying to do. They are trying to hurt innocent people but they also wanna inspire fear in all of us and disrupt the way we live to undermine our values. And so even as we have to be vigilant and aggressive both in preventing senseless acts of violence but also making sure that we find those who carry out such acts and bring them to justice, we all have a role to play as citizens in making sure that we don’t succumb to that fear.”
He stressed that “the kind of strength that makes me so proud to be an American… is gonna be absolutely critical, not just in the days to come, but in the years to come.”
“By showing those who want to do us harm that they will never beat us, by showing the entire world that as Americans we do not and never will give in to fear, that’s going to be the most important ingredient in us defeating those who would carry out terrorist acts against us,” Obama said.