On the second day of a three-day meeting in the wake of terrorist attacks overseas, President Obama on Wednesday made his most direct remarks yet about any link between Islam and terrorism, says The Associated Press.
For weeks, the White House has sidestepped the question of whether deadly terror attacks in Paris and other Western cities amount to "Islamic extremism," in an effort to avoid offending a major world religion or giving credibility to the "war on terror" that Obama's predecessor waged.
“Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge, so I want to be very clear about how I see it,” the president said at the meeting in Washignton on Wednesday. “Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.”
But Obama, said, “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”
The operatives of al Qaeda and the Islamic State “are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.