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Defeating the Cancer of Violent Extremism


U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013.

President Barack Obama called violent extremism a “cancer” that has ravaged parts of the Muslim world, and he called on the world to join forces to eradicate it.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Barack Obama called violent extremism a “cancer” that has ravaged parts of the Muslim world, and he called on the world to join forces to eradicate it:

“Collectively, we must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by religiously motivated fanatics and the trends that fuel their recruitment.”

No God, said President Obama, condones the terror that groups like ISIL, now operating in Syria and Iraq, have unleashed: the murder of children, rape of women, starvation of religious minorities, mutilation of innocent civilians:

“There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”

Already more than 40 nations have joined the coalition against ISIL. The U.S. and its partners are using their military capabilities in a campaign of airstrikes in both countries, and will train and equip forces fighting against the terrorists on the ground. The U.S. and other members of the coalition are also working to cut off terrorist financing and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region, and urged more nations to join in this effort to degrade and defeat ISIL.

President Obama also had a message for the terrorists themselves:

“Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battle field 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.”

President Obama said that the United States will work in other ways as well to eradicate the need for military force to defeat violent extremism, including by encouraging Muslim communities to defend against “the corruption of young minds by violent ideology”; by stopping the funding that fuels such hate; by addressing the cycle of conflict that creates the conditions terrorists prey upon.

President Obama also spoke directly to young people across the Muslim world: “You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition not defending it.”

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