President Barack Obama urged the public on Sunday to not elevate the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as more powerful than it is in reality.
“They’re a bunch of killers with good social media,” Obama said, speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Obama said the media in particular should maintain the right perspective on the danger that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups pose to the country.
“How we report on this has to maintain perspective and not empower in any way these terrorist organisations or elevate them in ways that make it easier for them to recruit or make them stronger,” he argued.
Obama specifically called out news outlets that labelled the ringleader in the recent terror attack in Paris a “mastermind.”
“I want to be very clear about this: I am not afraid that ISIL will beat us because of their operations,” Obama said. “When I see a headline that says this individual who designed this plot in Paris is a ‘mastermind,’ he’s not a mastermind.”
Obama added, “He found a few other vicious people, got hands on some fairly conventional weapons, and sadly it turns out that if you’re willing to die you can kill a lot of people.”
The president nevertheless stressed that the US has to take the Islamic State threat seriously, and that the jihadist group will eventually be defeated.
“Destroying ISIL is not only a realistic goal, we’re going to get it done,” he said earlier in his press conference. “And we’re going to pursue it with every aspect of American power and with all of the coalition partners that we’ve assembled. It’s going to get done.”
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