Obama To Vets: Terrorism Has Not ‘Substantially Increased’

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama told military veterans terrorism had not “substantially increased” under his tenure in office at a CNN town hall Wednesday.

Obama’s statement came in response to a U.S. Army chaplain who asked him why there has been “a substantial increase in terror attacks around the world” since he took office. Obama justified the statement, saying the spate of high profile attacks in Europe make terrorism appear worse than it is.

He previously declared Islamic State is not an existential threat to U.S. homeland security. “Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions,” Obama said in May.

The administration’s anti-ISIS strategy often focuses on territory seized from the group in Iraq and Syria, without taking foreign terrorist attacks into account. As ISIS loses territory, it is likely to try and strike foreign targets in retaliation by sending foreign fighters back home and across the globe.

“There will be a terrorist diaspora some time in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before,” FBI Director James Comey warned Congress Tuesday.

Obama often tries to place terrorism casualties in the perspective of other deaths by unnatural causes suffered by Americans. “[The] Odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident,” he told Jay Leno in 2013.

At the town hall, Obama also faced a difficult question from a Gold Star mother who asked him, “Why do you still refuse to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism?” Obama responded that he didn’t want to rhetorically relate terrorism with “the billion Muslims . . . who are peaceful, who are responsible, who in this country are our fellow troops.”

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