Obama Urges Americans to Keep Calm in Fight Against Violent Extremism

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President Obama urged Americans to use a calm and steady approach to countering the violent extremism that spawns groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

In a speech on the second day of a White House summit, Obama said the best antidote to the harsh ideology peddled by ISIS is making sure that everyone feels like they have a rightful place in society.

“If extremists are peddling this notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, we need to show them that we are accepting of all folks,” Obama said.

To that end, Obama took pains to avoid characterizing violent extremism as solely a byproduct of Islam, noting that “no religion is responsible for violence and terrorism.” The summit was criticized by some conservatives for not focusing more on Islamic fundamentalism, but Obama argued that would only embolden groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“Al-Qaeda, [ISIS] and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy,” he said. “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors in defense of Islam … They propagate the notion that America — and the West generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit.”

“We are not at war with Islam,” he said during the speech. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

The second day of the three-day summit featured community leaders from Boston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, all of which are hosting government-led initiatives to counter extremism. A small group of activists also showed up across the street to protest “Islamophobia” and argue that Muslims are being unfairly targeted by these measures.

See America's Top 10 Rewards for Terrorists

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$25 million: Osama bin-Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist organization that was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Bin-Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011 by an American Special Forces unit in an operation ordered by President Obama. Getty Images
Terrorists Ayman al-Zawahiri
$25 million: Ayman al-Zawahiri Ayman al-Zawahiri has led al-Qaeda since bin-Laden’s death in 2011 and is currently the most-wanted terrorist on the FBI’s list. Prior to assuming leadership of the organization, al-Zawahiri was the second-in-command, considered both the ideological and operational leader of the group.AFP/Getty Images
Terrorists Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
$25 million: Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (removed) Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi was the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and was responsible for numerous hostage executions and suicide bombings, including the first major attack in 2003 that destroyed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi was killed in an American airstrike near Baghdad in 2006. Getty Images
Terrorists Saddam Hussein
$25 million: Saddam Hussein (removed) Saddam Hussein was the president of Iraq from 1979-2003. The U.S. and the U.K. invaded Iraq in 2003 and deposed him on suspicions of ties to al-Qaeda. He was tried and convicted in 2006 of charges related to the 1982 killings of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites. He was sentenced to death, and hung in Dec. 2006. Chris Hondros—Getty Images
Terrorists Uday Hussein
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$15 million: Qusay Hussein (removed) Qusay Hussein was Saddam Hussein’s second son, and believed to be the chosen successor for his father. Qusay lead Iraq’s intelligence and security services and was also involved in the weapons program. Qusay was killed in the same 2003 raid that killed his brother Uday. AFP/Getty Images
Terrorists Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
$10 million: Abu Du'a a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Abu Du’a is the leader of the militant Islamist group ISIS. ISIS is considered too extreme even by al-Qaeda, which disavowed the group in 2014. Recently, ISIS has seized Mosul and other major Iraqi cities, threatening the country’s security and sparking global panic. Reuters
Terrorists Hafiz Saeed
$10 million: Hafiz Saeed Hafiz Saeed is the amir of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, a terrorist organization operating out of Pakistan, and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the organization responsible for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that lasted four days and resulted in 174 casualties. Saeed resides in Lahore, Pakistan. Anjum Naveed—AP
Terrorists Mullah Omar
$10 million: Mullah Omar Mullah Mohammed Omar is the spiritual leader of the Taliban. He led Afghanistan as the Head of the Supreme Council of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, and is wanted by the U.S. for sheltering Osama bin-Laden and other al-Qaeda militants leading up to the attacks on September 11, 2001. AP
Terrorists Yasin al-Suri
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