President Barack Obama worked to calm Americans’ jitters Monday after a series of attempts at mass violence, suggesting that yielding to fear amounted to a win for terrorists.
“I think it is important to remember what terrorists and violent extremists are trying to do. They are trying to hurt innocent people, but they also want to inspire fear in all of us, and disrupt the way we live to undermine our values,” Obama said. “We all have a role to play as citizens in making sure that we don’t succumb to that fear. And there is no better example of that than the people of New York and New Jersey.”
The President was speaking from a hotel in midtown Manhattan, where he’s attending his final United Nations General Assembly meeting. Two miles south, in Chelsea, investigations were still piecing together evidence following a bomb explosion in a dumpster Saturday night, which injured dozens.
The attack appeared linked to another explosion in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and a series of pipe bombs found in a backpack Sunday night in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A third incident in Minnesota, where a man stabbed nine people before being shot, is being investigated separately as a “potential act of terrorism,” Obama said.
An ISIS wing claimed responsibility for the Minnesota attack. Obama insisted his administration was going after the terror group aggressively to prevent any further violence.
“We will continue to lead the global coalition on the fight to destroy ISIL, which is instigating a lot of people over the internet, to carry out attacks,” Obama said, using the administration’s term for the Islamic State group. “We are going to continue to go after them. We’re going to take out their leaders, we’re going to take out their infrastructure.”
Obama said during his remarks that he’d spoken with governors and mayors in the two states, and assured them the federal government was working diligently to find those responsible for the crimes. He said the FBI and local law enforcement agencies were working “smartly” to locate a culprit.
“Folks around here, you know, they don’t get scared. They are tough, they are resilient, they go about their business every single day. And that kind of toughness and resoluteness and a recognition that neither individuals nor organizations like ISIL can ultimately undermine our way of life,” Obama said. “That’s the kind of strength that makes me so proud to be an American.”
He continued, “By showing those who want to do us harm that they will never beat us, by showing the entire world that as Americans we do not and never will give in to fear: that’s going to be the most important ingredient in us defeating those who would carry out terrorist acts against us.”