OBAMA: 'Priority number one' is fighting ISIS and other terrorists

Obama state of the unionCBSPresident Barack Obama at the State of the Union.

President Barack Obama spent a significant portion of his final State of the Union speech discussing the fight against the terrorist group ISIS.

A transcript for his speech was posted on the website Medium ahead of the Tuesday-night address.

Obama will say that fighting ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh) and other terrorists is the top priority of his administration.

“Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks,” he will say, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks.

“Both Al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.”

But Obama also cautioned the American public not to overstate ISIS’ reach and abilities, noting that “over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.”

“Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped,” Obama will say. “But they do not threaten our national existence.”

Obama has been often criticised for a comment in which he referred to ISIS as the “JV team” of terrorism. And while he was careful not to downplay the threat ISIS poses, Obama also emphasised the importance of not building them up.

“We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions,” Obama will say. “We just need to call them what they are  —  killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.”

Obama then described what the US is doing to combat the terrorist organisation.

“For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology,” he will say. “With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.”

Obama also called on Congress to authorise the use of military force against ISIS.

“If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorise the use of military force against ISIL,” Obama will say. “Take a vote.”

Obama has made these appeals before. He asked Congress to authorise military force against ISIS in December. The current military campaign is going forward under the same legal authority granted by Congress in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on US soil.

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