In a brief Easter weekend radio address, President Obama vowed to decimate the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but he said the United States will do so by offering an example of freedom, tolerance and open society.
"Our openness to refugees fleeing ISIL's violence; our determination to win the battle against ISIL's hateful and violent propaganda — a distorted view of Islam that aims to radicalize young Muslims to their cause," are paramount in the fight, Obama told Americans during his weekly radio address.
Admitting entry to Syrian and Iraqi refugees has become a divisive issue in the U.S. as well as Europe, but Obama made clear he has no plan to back off his promise to admit 100,000 to the U.S. this year.
"We have to wield another weapon alongside our airstrikes, our military, our counterterrorism work, and our diplomacy," Obama said. "And that's the power of our example. Our openness to refugees fleeing ISIL's violence. Our determination to win the battle against ISIL's hateful and violent propaganda – a distorted view of Islam that aims to radicalize young Muslims to their cause."
In his brief speech, Obama underscored that the United States' has to engage Muslims as partners in the fight against terrorism. He took apparent shots at proposals by Republican presidential candidates. Donald Trump has called for barring Muslims from entering the United States. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas urged preemptively expanding police presense to "secure" Muslim neighborhoods, though American Muslim communities have been been a source of domestic terrorism.
In fighting their incendiary rhetoric, "our most important partners are American Muslims," Obama stated. "That's why we have to reject any attempt to stigmatize Muslim-Americans, and their enormous contributions to our country and our way of life. Such attempts are contrary to our character, to our values, and to our history as a nation built around the idea of religious freedom," he said, repeating a theme he has sounded as anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric consumed the GOP presidential campaign trail.
"It's also counterproductive. It plays right into the hands of terrorists who want to turn us against one another; who need a reason to recruit more people to their hateful cause," Obama said before reiterating his determination to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State, in light of an attack lask week in Belgium.
"We will succeed; the terrorists will fail," he promised five days after the group claimed credit for the deathly attacks on the European capital of Brussels. "They want us to abandon our values and our way of life. We will not. They want us to give in to their vision of the future. We will defeat them with ours. Because we know that the future belongs not to those who seek only to destroy — but to those who have the courage to build."
Obama verified that two Americans were killed in the Islamic State's rampage in Brussels.
[W]e're going to continue to root out and defeat ISIL." Obama promised. "We've been taking out ISIL leadership, and this week, we removed one of their top leaders from the battlefield — permanently," he said, after Pentagon officials confirmed Friday the death of a top financier for the group.
"We're also working to disrupt plots against the United States and against our friends and allies," Obama continued. "A team of FBI agents is on the ground in Belgium supporting the investigation. We've ramped up our intelligence cooperation so that we can root out ISIL's operations. And we constantly review our homeland security posture to remain vigilant against any efforts to target the United States."
Obama also said the United States will use next week's convening in Washington of world leaders to stop nuclear proliferation to discuss anti-Islamic State efforts.
"We'll use that opportunity to also review our joint efforts against ISIL, and to make sure the world remains united in this effort to protect our people," Obama said.