News / USA

White House Warns of Terror Threat From Islamic State Fighters

White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes speaks to reporters during a press briefing, Aug. 22, 2014, in Edgartown, Massachusetts.
White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes speaks to reporters during a press briefing, Aug. 22, 2014, in Edgartown, Massachusetts.
VOA News

President Barack Obama's administration says the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants from the Islamic State group amounts to a direct terrorist attack on the United States.

"We have seen them posing a threat to our interests in the region, to our personnel and facilities in the region, and clearly the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack - not just on him, but he's an American - and we see that as an attack on our country, when one of our own is killed like that," said Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes said Friday the U.S. is ready to take additional action against Islamic State fighters -- to protect Americans, and because the group poses a much greater threat today than it did six months ago. In deciding on further airstrikes, Rhodes said, U.S. military activity will not be "restricted" by borders.

Islamic State fighters have gained control of a large swath of territory in northern Iraq and eastern Syria during the past six weeks, and they have moved freely between the two nations.
In a separate development Friday, a massive attack on a Sunni Muslim mosque northeast of Baghdad appeared to undermine the Shi'ite-led central government's effort to bridge Iraq's sectarian divides and forge a united front against Islamic State militants. Dozens of people were killed as they attended weekly prayers.

Witnesses and Sunni religious officials blamed members of a hardline Shi'ite militia for the attack, but some government military commanders said they suspect Islamic State militants were responsible for the carnage.

Strong reactions

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf condemned the attack and said Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum should help to unify the country against violent extremist groups.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone Friday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari about the situation in Iraq. The State Department said Kerry expressed his strong support for the formation of a new government and encouraged Zebari to press all parties on the need work together. The State Department said the two also agreed that Iraq, the U.S., the region and the international community must work together to face the threat posed by Islamic State militants.

Also Friday, Vice President Joe Biden called on Iraqis to overcome their differences and unite to fight the Islamic State. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Biden said Iraq's survival depends on the ability of Iraqis to unite in a common effort.  He said forming a government in Iraq is critical.  Biden also praised the spirit of cooperation between security forces in Iraq, and said that Iraqi and Kurdish forces showed their ability to work together when they fought Islamic State militants at the Mosul dam.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "in the strongest terms" the mosque attack in Diyala province. He said all attacks on places of worship are completely unacceptable and are prohibited under international law. Mr. Ban called on leaders of all of Iraq's political factions to unite and urge their constituents to refrain from sectarianism.

US strikes

U.S. aircraft launched at least three airstrikes Friday against Islamic State positions near the Mosul dam in northern Iraq, a crucial source of power and water for more than a million people. Militant fighters gained control of the dam this month, but  combined Iraqi and Kurdish forces have since counterattacked and forced the extremists to withdraw.

Since August 8, U.S. forces have carried out 93 airstrikes against Islamic State militants, about two-thirds of them near the Mosul dam. The chief U.S. military spokesman at the Pentagon, Rear Admiral John Kirby, declined to answer reporters' questions Friday about whether the air campaign against the Islamic State group will be extended into Syria.
"I'm not going to get ahead of planning that hasn't been done or decisions that haven't been made. We don't telegraph our punches," said Kirby.

Foley, a freelance photojournalist, was kidnapped in Syria in 2012. The Islamic State group has its headquarters in Syria, and that is where Foley is believed to have been beheaded. Rhodes said the U.S. did everything it could to free Foley and bring home other Americans held by terrorists, and he said a failed rescue attempt last month inside Syria was a "tragic" failure.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Islamic State group is a terrorist threat "beyond anything we have seen." He describes the militants as better trained, armed, organized and financed than any other terrorist organization, including al-Qaida.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: David Ray from: cali.
August 25, 2014 12:26 PM
I'm lost..... its a direct atack on the USA they are terrorists that has already killed an american and has pretty much declared war on us yet ppl are still deciding what to do? WE ARE THE MEGA FORCE! we may not be liked by all but we always upholded pride in stopping this kind of crap any ware in the world! Get all our allies together and stop playing around and get permissionto blacken there skies with an all out force of power to take out the bad all at once!!! Sending in 100 or 200 ppl at a time is why there being killed! Go for it all and end the madness!!

by: Antonio
August 24, 2014 7:05 AM
The enmity by ISIS towards the USA is apparent to all including innocent civillians. This has recently been illustrated by their barbaric savagery. Abiding by the Geneva Convention or International Law is totally irrelevant. The USA has GOT to do what the USA has GOT to do, as HAVE other Countries.

by: Ghassan Skeiky from: Sierra Leone
August 22, 2014 8:52 PM
These are cursed people. They are not Muslims. They are using the name Islam to create a hate phobia for Muslims. The Quaran does not preach these kind of acts. A true Muslim is a very harmless person.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs