By Lauren Holt
President Obama sat down to discuss ISIS in an interview with the 60 Minutes on CBS in the wake of haunting beheadings of two American journalists by the Islamic extremist group.
Obama spoke with 60 minutes correspondent Steve Kroft about the group’s stealthy rise to power and addressed recent comments made by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
The U.S., Clapper revealed, underestimated the power ISIS gained in recent years and overestimated the Iraqi army’s ability to respond, according to CBS news. President Obama explained that following the war in Iraq, U.S. intelligence believed the terrorist group al Qaeda had been eradicated. In reality however, al Qaeda had just been subdued.
“They went back underground, but over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you had huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said.
The president went on to explain ISIS is made up of more than former al Qaeda members. Through what the president called a “very savvy” social media campaign, ISIS has appealed to people around the world. This is including a group of fewer than 12 people in the U.S., according to information acquired by CBS.
The U.S. launched an airstrike campaign in Iraq a few weeks ago, and recently expanded the campaign to include sites in Syria. The airstrikes are one component of Obama’s strategy against ISIS, which he further elaborated on in the interview.
The president remained adamant that no American men and women will engage in combat, although he did receive congressional approval for U.S. military “advisors” to begin training moderate Syrian rebel groups on the ground. He also continues to have faith in the cooperation of the Iraqi army.
“We can’t do this for them,” he said. “We cannot do this for them because it’s not just a military problem, it is a political problem.”