Obama urges nations to unite against terror, vows to wipe out ISIS

US President Barack Obama arrives to make a statement after meeting with his National Security Council in Washington, on Feb 25, 2016.
US President Barack Obama arrives to make a statement after meeting with his National Security Council in Washington, on Feb 25, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BUENOS AIRES/LONDON • United States President Barack Obama urged nations to unite against terrorism after the deadly attacks in Brussels and said wiping out the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group was his "top priority".

ISIS claimed responsibility after bombers killed 31 people and wounded hundreds of others at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital on Tuesday, leaving European and world leaders once more grappling for ways to tackle the terrorist threat.

"Groups like ISIL can't destroy us. They can't produce anything. They're not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers," said Mr Obama, using another acronym for ISIS, during a visit to Argentina on Wednesday.

"The United States will continue to offer any assistance that we can to help investigate these attacks and bring the attackers to justice. We will also continue to go after ISIL aggressively until it is removed from Syria and removed from Iraq and is finally destroyed," he said.

"The world has to be united against terrorism and we can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security not only of our own people but of people all around the world. So that is the top priority of ours."

Mr Obama added that US air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and operations against their bases in Iraq were "working" to weaken the extremist group.

The Brussels attacks raised worries among some US Muslims that they could face more hostility, although mainstream Muslims have repeatedly denounced violence.

In Britain, a man has been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after sparking outrage on Twitter with a message about confronting a Muslim woman over the bombings, London police said yesterday.

"I confronted a Muslim woman yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'Nothing to do with me'. A mealy- mouthed reply," the man, named by British media as public relations executive Matthew Doyle, 46, said in the original tweet posted on Wednesday.

The message went viral, prompting angry reactions as well as mocking messages parodying his tweet.

Twitter user Beaubodor wrote: "I confronted a woman eating breakfast yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain porridge. She said 'mlumabmnhnmm'. A mealy- mouthed reply."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Obama urges nations to unite against terror, vows to wipe out ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe