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Jeremy Au Yong
Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

World

Obama calls on world to fight ISIS terror

The Straits Times | Jeremy Au Yong | Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

"Today, I ask the world to join in this effort," President Barack Obama said at the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Barack Obama has called on world leaders to join the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even as US forces continued their attack on the militant group in Syria for a second day.

"Today, I ask the world to join in this effort," he said at the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. "Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battlefield while they can. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will not succumb to threats; and we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build - not those who destroy," he said, using another name for the group.

Shortly after he spoke, a militant group linked to ISIS released a video of French hostage Herve Gourdel being beheaded. The 55-year-old was kidnapped on Sunday by Jund al-Khilafah, which demanded France stop its air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Mr Obama indicated that he has secured the support he needed from the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution asking countries to take steps to stem the flow of fighters to ISIS.

But he also stressed the need for longer-term solutions, urging Muslim nations to counter the propagation of extremist ideology among the young. "It is time for the world, especially Muslim communities, to explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of Al-Qaeda and ISIL," he said.

"Resolutions must be followed by tangible commitments... Next year, we should all be prepared to announce the concrete steps that we have taken to counter extremist ideologies - by getting intolerance out of schools, stopping radicalisation before it spreads, and promoting institutions and programmes that build new bridges of understanding," he said.

Though Mr Obama also urged global unity on issues like Ebola and the Russia-Ukraine crisis, he focused much of his address on the ISIS threat.

On Monday, the US and five Arab partners - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - launched strikes on ISIS targets in Syria. The US conducted a separate operation against the Khorasan group, a network of senior Al-Qaeda operatives. Officials believe its leader Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed.

The offensive continued yesterday with US forces launching further bombardments on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said eight strikes were launched - three in Syria and five in Iraq.

Although there has been widespread support for the strikes, some leaders have voiced discomfort, given that the attacks are not backed by a UN resolution. The US yesterday justified them as a means of collective self-defence.

ISIS' initial response to the strike was to release a new propaganda video, and the US authorities have raised alarm about the possibility of retaliation by home- grown extremists. Saudi pilots involved in the raid have received online death threats.

Separately, lawmakers began debating a tough counter-terrorism Bill in Australia after a recent plot by ISIS sympathisers there.


This article was first published on Sep 25, 2014.
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