President Obama Calls for Destruction of ISIS in Rare Primetime Address

Obama Oval Office - H 2015

In the wake of the attack in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead last week, the president called on Congress to pass new gun-control measures as a "matter of national secruity."

President Barack Obama made a rare primetime address on Sunday night to detail his administration’s plans to fight the Islamic State in the wake of the shooting that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, Calif., last week.

Although President Obama said that there is no evidence that the San Bernardino killers, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were part of a foreign-planned plot to carry out an attack on U.S. soil, it was clear that the couple had “gone down the dark path of radicalization.”

“This was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people,” the President said during his speech, which was broadcast on all three major networks, including NBC, which took a pause from its Sunday Night Football pre-game broadcast.

President Obama described ISIS as “thugs and killers” who do not represent the beliefs of the majority of the Muslims in the world. “We will destroy ISIL and any anyone else who tries to harm us,” he said, adding that the U.S. is cooperating with Muslim-majority countries to “counter the vicious ideology.”

But the President cautioned that the U.S. cannot allow the fight to be defined as a “war between America and Islam.” He also called on Americans to reject discrimination against Muslims, saying that would only play "into the hands of groups like ISIL."

"When we travel down that road, we lose," said Obama.

He added: “Let's not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. We have always met challenges — whether war or depression; natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.”

While the President focused the majority of his remarks on the broader threat of terrorism and how the U.S. plans to defeat it, he called on Congress to make it illegal for people on the nation’s no-fly list to obtain guns.

“This is a matter of national security,” Obama said, adding that lawmakers also need to make it harder for people to buy assault weapons.

The speech was blasted by critics as soon as it was over; GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump being among the first to respond.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz tweeted: “If I am elected President, I will direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS.”

There was no immediate reaction on Twitter from Ben Carson and Jeb Bush, who both posted Hannukah greetings on Sunday instead.

— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) December 6, 2015