Tags: Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | barack obama | war | terror | speech

Obama Warns Against Profiling, Surveillance in Anti-Terror Speech

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:02 PM

President Barack Obama used his speech on the second day of a three-day White House summit on extremism to warn against profiling people or conducting surveillance simply because of their religious beliefs.

The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism came under fire from critics for failing to state that the focus is on radical Islamic terrorists, including groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida, who are targeting the West in what they describe as a holy war.

Obama admitted that such groups are the reason behind the summit, but he reiterated that his administration will not label the groups "Muslim" or "Islamic" because he said they are misusing passages of the Koran to justify their violence.

Obama said it is important not to stigmatize entire communities.

"Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith," he said.

Obama pointed toward more cooperation with Muslim communities in finding people early in the radicalization process, but, he said, "Engagement with communities can't be a cover for surveillance."

Some in the Muslim community and on the left have been critical of efforts to infiltrate mosques to find imams preaching radicalism or to find members who have a radical ideology.

In the United States, he said, local and federal authorities must make sure that Muslims aren’t isolated and that they are welcomed and integrated into society.

"Muslim Americans feel they have been unfairly targeted," he said. "We have to be sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we don’t profile entire communities."

Obama said the terror groups are trying to expand their reach by portraying the U.S. and other Western nations as being at war with Islam.

"We must never accept the premise they put forward, because it is a lie," Obama said Wednesday. "They are not religious leaders, they’re terrorists."

Deadly attacks in Paris, Sydney and Copenhagen by individuals of Muslim background and possibly inspired by the brutal tactics of ISIS, along with the group’s spread in Syria, Iraq and now Libya, have raised alarms in Europe and the U.S. about danger of so-called lone wolf terrorists, driven by extremist ideology and difficult to detect before they act.

At the summit, the Obama administration is convening representatives of Muslim organizations, law enforcement officials and local political leaders to swap ideas about how to stem root causes for extremism. It also has invited leaders from overseas to take part.

Obama said civic leaders must recognize that Islamic State is "reaching and brainwashing young Muslims" through social media and need to act to alleviate the alienation and poverty that are the extremists’ best recruiting tool.

In a nod to his critics, Obama admitted that not all terrorists come from impoverished backgrounds, including former al-Qaida leader Osama bin-Laden. But he likely gave them new bait when he mentioned the Oklahoma City bombing and the attacks of 9/11 side-by-side and also mention the Fort Hood shootings and the killings of three Muslim college students killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The administration has been criticized for years for calling the Fort Hood shootings "workplace violence" even though the shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, held radical Islamic views. And the Chapel Hill shootings are reported to have been a parking dispute.

The accused gunman is an atheist, but his wife has said he did not shoot the three because they were Muslim.

Former U.S. spokesman at the U.N. Ric Grenell told Fox News the speech was meandering and unfocused.

"He merely talked about isolating terrorists," Grenell told Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" immediately after the speech. "You can't isolate terrorists. He won't even send them to Gitmo."

"I'd like to know, over this last week, if he's had his intel briefing, because that is a man who doesn't understand what we are up against," Grenell said. "People are being burned in cages, and he's talking about more investments, empowering youth for greater service, entrepreneurship, not profiling. This is ridiculous."

Retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Cavuto that Obama's words that the United States should reject "certain premises" are "dangerous."

"That is code for ignore," Shaffer said. "There's no war against the Muslims. He is setting up a premise that is completely false."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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President Barack Obama used his speech on the second day of a three-day White House summit on extremism to warn against profiling people or conducting surveillance simply because of their religious beliefs.
barack obama, war, terror, speech, extremism, summit, muslims, isis
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:02 PM
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